I read in a British Heart Foundation magazine that lack of thankfulness in a person’s life can lead to depression, which can be linked to poor heart health, inflammation and a weaker immune system. The article encouraged developing a lifestyle of gratitude, which it said, can have a dramatic and lasting effect, lowering blood pressure and improving immune function.
How interesting, an up to date medical confirmation of the truth of what God laid down in His Word for our physical and spiritual well-being a very long time ago! Paul commands, ‘Always be thankful’ (Colossians 3:15), and goes further, ‘Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and the writer to the Hebrews writes, ‘Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakeable let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe’ (Hebrews 12:28).
I don’t know about you, but I find this quite challenging. As Christians, are we thankful people? In all circumstances? If we’re really honest, don’t we sometimes find ourselves caught up in what we haven’t got, rather than what we have? Do you ever find you’ve slipped into negativity, instead of looking for the good? Complaining or criticising instead of being thankful?
Years ago, a dear friend, in hospital during the last few days of his life here on earth, told me that a nurse had held his hand and asked, “Are you afraid?” A broad smile spread across his dying face as he told me, “I answered her, ‘Why should I be frightened? I’ll be with my Lord this time next week.’”
Isn’t this the key to a heart attitude of thankfulness? In the midst of our circumstances, gazing on Jesus, viewing life in the context of belonging to Him, rather than gazing on the circumstances themselves and focussing on the problems, however tough they may be. This is obedience to God’s Word. This is taking discipleship steps. And thinking back to that British Heart Foundation article, in the context of us as Christians, who can count on the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, who knows what a truly dramatic and lasting healing effect this will outwork in our lives?
Today, let’s begin to develop that lifestyle of gratitude, turning our eyes upon Jesus, remembering that no matter what assails us in life, we are accepted, loved and belong to Him, and He is faithful to all His promises to us, ‘gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love’ (Psalm 145:8), He ‘will never leave us nor forsake us’ (Deuteronomy 31:6) and He will work even the hardest of things together, ultimately for our good (Romans 8:28). And let’s ask Him to give us an open-heartedness and expectancy of that ‘dramatic and lasting healing effect’ in our lives.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, I want to say sorry for the times when I have had a thankless attitude and complained and grumbled as I’ve dwelt on my circumstances. Thank You that You don’t condemn me, and You are the lifter of my head. Please help me today to look up to You, to gaze on You, and in the midst of all I am walking through today, to bring my offering of thanksgiving to You: for the life You have given me, for being chosen and adopted into Your family, for all You have given to me, and for the good You yet want to pour into my life. Please give me that open-heartedness to the work of Your Holy Spirit in my life, and expectation of the healing You want to bring. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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