Wednesday, 10 February 2016 08:42

Practicing Gratitude

Written by  Rebecca Rose Morris
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Throughout the Bible, Christians are exhorted to be thankful to God.  The concept is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible and 33 times by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. 

Gratitude  — A Response to Grace

Did you know that the words gratitude and grace derive from the same root in Greek, Latin, and English? To understand gratitude, we must understand its relationship to grace.


“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”  2 Corinthians 4:15


Gratitude is a humble affirmation of grace and goodness in our lives.  Grace is unmerited favor... gifts undeserved and unearned.  Gratitude is a feeling of delight, directed not just at the gift, but more importantly the grace of the giver. Our feelings of gratitude grow in direct proportion to how undeserved the gift is.  God’s grace and provision are boundless, even in times of distress. As God’s grace abounds and is recognized, thanksgiving and gratitude will overflow.


Gratitude No Matter What Happens?

Really, God?  We are supposed to be grateful to you regardless of circumstance?  Even when...

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18


We are called to be grateful to God in all things... to recognize his grace and blessings even in the midst of our pain.  Many of us have experienced God’s presence and provision in times of tragedy and loss….and the healing and growth that followed. The most difficult times in our lives often draw us closer to God and others. Our gratitude acknowledges that God uses everything for His glory and our good.


How Can We Practice Gratitude?

God calls us to certain practices like gratitude that glorify Him and bring us joy and peace, just as He warns us away from those that cause harm. So it is not surprising that secular psychological research is overwhelmingly confirming the value of gratitude in our lives. 

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., who became a Christian as an adult, is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, having extensively studied the effects of gratitude on psychological well-being, physical health and our relationships with others.  For over a decade, Dr. Emmons and his colleagues have studied over one thousand people ages 8 - 80, and results have consistently shown that the practice of gratitude yields emotional, social, physical and spiritual benefits. 


How can we incorporate gratitude practices into our daily lives? 


Begin a gratitude journal. On a daily basis, take time to remind yourself of the graces in your life.  Recognize the big things, but also notice the little things in your day that you take for granted and consider them all gifts.


Use your senses to become aware of God’s grace.  Appreciate the miraculous gift of the human body and the world around you.  Notice the sun on your face and God’s beautiful art in the sky. Pay attention to all that your body can do – you can walk, breathe, hug…


Use the tool of mental subtraction of positive events and relationships.  When small things happen in your life--say a phone call from a friend--think of how your life would be diminished without your friend or without the means to stay in touch with people you love. What would your life be like if there was never a sunny day? What if food had no taste? Our gratitude grows when we consider our life without simple graces.


Write letters to people who have had a positive impact on your life, letting them know what they have meant to you.  Be specific about what you are grateful for.  Deliver your letters in person if you can.  Even if you are not able to deliver them, write them anyway.


Reflect on challenges that you have overcome.  Remember the ways that God has used even the most tragic of circumstances to allow you to grow.  The contrast between where you were and how far you have come can help to cultivate gratitude.


“Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
Ephesians 5:20


Last modified on Wednesday, 10 February 2016 09:17
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