Another Reason to Be Thankful
Count your blessings. How many times have we heard that simple admonition? But it is easy to ignore because it’s so simple. However, a recent scientific study found that counting your blessings really does make you more positive and happy. This simple study backs up basic scriptures in your Bible.
With so much prosperity and abundance in Western nations, how do we teach our children to distinguish between necessity and want? “A new study finds it may be as simple as making gratitude a daily priority for our children” (Studyfinds.org; emphasis added throughout).
This study considered two groups of adolescents. One group was told to keep a journal for a few weeks and only write down the major activities of every day. The other group was told to write down things they were grateful for at the end of every day. At the end of the study, both groups took a survey that measured their general happiness and thankfulness. They were also given 10 $1 bills and told that they could either keep all the money or donate some of it to charity. The results of the study speak for themselves:
[T]hose who had kept a gratitude journal were significantly more grateful and less materialistic. The control group, which had focused on recording daily activities, stayed at the same pre-journal levels of thankfulness and materialism.
Participants in the first group were also more generous than the control group. Youth who had written about who and what they were thankful for wanted to give away two-thirds of their participation earnings, while those who had recorded daily activities decided to keep more than half of what they earned for themselves.
Yet another study that proves a basic truth found in the Bible.
Herbert W. Armstrong expounded on this in the September 1961 Good News:
One of the most common sins among God’s people has always been griping, complaining—called “murmuring” in the Bible. This attitude of criticizing, finding fault, grumbling, is negative, unspiritual, and is a disease that produces unhappiness and loss of faith in the perpetrator, and great annoyance to others who hear it.
The cure is to set your mind in the opposite mood—that of gratitude. Perhaps the most common sin in professing Christians is ingratitude—failure to be thankful—to count one’s blessings.
Without knowing it, this was what those children were doing when they listed the things they were thankful for. The exercise itself set their minds in the right direction! That’s what we need to do when we are entangled in a spirit of negativity, accusation, gossip and of criticizing others. Set your mind in the opposite direction. Be grateful!
We have heard it said before, perhaps hundreds of times. But how many of us have ever actually stopped what we are doing in order to count our blessings? If we did that more, we would be much less inclined to criticize and complain.
Take time to realize how blessed you are—and then give God thanks!
A true Christian—a follower of Christ—will be filled with joy and happiness! Those are fruits of God’s Holy Spirit—joy and goodness (Galatians 5:22-23).
God told Israel in Deuteronomy 28:1-2: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.”
If you keep these commandments, you will have the very best of this Earth—blessings upon blessings. The next 11 verses list the many wonderful blessings God gives for obedience. God told Israel that if they obeyed Him, he would bless them in the city, in the field, in their families, in their produce, in their flocks, in their goods, in the weather, at work, in their finances, inside and outside the home, and with protection against their enemies. Their nation would be above all other nations.
Think about all the blessings the modern nations of Israel still enjoy today. How did we come to possess so much of the vast wealth of the Earth? Did we acquire it through our own human wisdom, foresight, energy, ability and power?
A few hundred years ago, the attitude of crediting God for our blessings and being thankful was much more widespread. Consider this proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on April 30, 1863:
We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the Earth, as regards fertility of soil, extent of territory, and salubrity of climate. … We … find ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or the establishment of them.
It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God … and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. … We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown; but we have forgotten God! We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Deuteronomy 28:15 continues with a thorough list of curses that would come if Israel disobeyed. Today, we are being overtaken by these curses because of disobedience. And why? Notice the end of the chapter: “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things” (verse 47).
The modern nations of Israel today are reaping these curses partly because they have been ungrateful!
As true Christians, if we aren’t serving God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, then something is wrong with us. After all, this is the Work of God! What a blessing and opportunity we have to give what we have to others. If your heart is truly in this Work, then you will serve God with joy and gladness—and God will bless you for it.
God warns us in 1 Corinthians 10 not to be like the Israelites who murmured in the wilderness. God miraculously delivered them from Egypt, and they left on a joyous high. But as soon as the first test came, they began to murmur against Moses. They had already forgotten about the miracles that God had performed for them just days before. They weren’t thankful. God warns, Don’t be like them! Remember what I have done for you and your fathers.
When Christ healed the 10 lepers in Luke 17, only one of them came back to thank Him. Christ said, Where are the other nine? The others had also been healed, but they didn’t give God thanks for it. God blesses children who are appreciative and thankful!
If you want to overcome depression or negativity, praise and thank God for your blessings! Fill your mind with God’s goodness, and there will be no room for complaining or discontentment.
Read Psalm 148. This beautiful poetry is filled with praise and thanks to God. Everyone and everything in the universe is commanded to get involved in praising God!
The Soncino commentary says of verses 11-12: “The higher the rank, the greater the duty to join in the praise.” As God’s royal Family, don’t we have the highest responsibility of all mankind to praise and thank God?
God expects the praise of His children. God and Christ ask for gratitude. They rejoice in it. And they will respond to it!
Philippians 4:8 admonishes us that “if there be any praise, think on these things.” As Mr. Armstrong said, the best way to overcome negativity or a critical, unhappy attitude is to set your mind in the opposite mood—that of gratitude, thankfulness, thanksgiving and praise.