With Thanksgiving just around the corner, one can’t help but think about being thankful. It’s a time of year when we are told to think of all we have to be thankful for. But why? Why should we focus on being thankful? The truth is that thankfulness can improve your life! Not only does the medical field agree, but we can see a directive toward thankfulness in the Bible.
Definition of thankfulness
According to Merriam-Webster, to be thankful is to be:
- conscious of benefit received
- expressive of thanks
So, being thankful is basically remembering the good in your life, and appreciating it. I realize that is sometimes hard to do. Especially when we are going through a difficult time. I also know that those are the times we most need to remember and be thankful.
What does science say about thankfulness?
In an article written in 2021 by the University of Utah, we find that gratitude actually makes us happy. Kristen Francis, MD, a psychiatrist at Huntsmen Medical Health Institute, said that gratitude changes our brain by boosting dopamine and serotonin which give us feelings of pleasure and happiness.
But gratitude doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some of us have to be intentionally thankful. We have to remind ourselves each day what we have to be thankful for. Some ways we can do that are:
- Write a daily confession that includes what you are thankful for
- Place sticky notes around the house with reminders of what you are thankful for
- Set a reminder on your phone to stop and be thankful daily
Bible verses about thanksgiving and gratitude
The Bible has much to say about being thankful. Some scriptures are expressions of gratitude, while others are instruction. Let’s take a look at just a few:
Thankful in change
In the book of Colossians, Paul was instructing the church to examine their lives and let the love of Jesus change them.
Thankful in worship
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”[a]Hebrews 12:28-29
The truth is that if we cannot think of a single thing in our lives to be thankful for, we can still be thankful for what Jesus did for us. He became the sacrifice to pay for our sin so we can have eternal life. That is enough to keep us thankful for the rest of our time on this earth.
Thankful in persecution
In this book, Paul was encouraging the church to be thankful in hope, even in the persecution they were facing. And if anyone understood persecution, it was Paul.
Thankful in prayer
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Philippians 4:6
Anxiety can be difficult to handle. Yet this scripture is clearly telling us to not allow anxiety to control us, but rather to be thankful and pray.
Thankful in everything
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:17
In what is some of the best advice we could be given, Paul tells us to do everything for Christ, and in doing so to give thanks to the Father. It can seem like vague direction. But for me, it simply means to thank God that I even have breath in my lungs to do the thing I’m doing at that moment.
Examples of gratitude in the Bible
The Psalms are full of expressions of gratitude toward God. Much of the book of Psalms was written by King David, whom God called a man after His own heart. If you have read the Psalms you know that they are also filled with lament. Yet, David always came back to a place of thanksgiving and praise toward God.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;Psalm 9:1-2
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;Psalm 28:7
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;Psalm 86:12
I will glorify your name forever.
I could go on sharing expressions of thankfulness from the Bible, but you really should go read them for yourself. I suggest reading one in the morning to start your day. It can set your mind to the thankfulness in the Bible and direct the course of your entire day.
A story of gratitude in the Bible
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the woman with the alabaster jar found in Luke 7. We don’t even know her name. She was simply called a sinful woman. This woman had such gratitude toward the Savior that she took the most valuable thing she owned and poured it out over his feet. She wiped them with her hair. She could not hold back the gratitude she felt.
I can relate to her. I feel as though Jesus found me in all of my ugliness, all of my filth and shame, and he rescued me. He loved me right where I was. But then, he didn’t leave me there. He has spent the last 30+ years of my life changing me, making me more like him.
Can you relate? I hope so. If not, do you want to? Receiving Jesus is really quite simple. All you have to do is ask. Recognize your own sinfulness, turn from it, and receive him as your Savior. He has a life of wonder and beauty just waiting for you.