Yesterday, Americans around the world celebrated Thanksgiving Day. It’s a favorite holiday among many. There’s traditional turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and a variety of other foods to cover the table. We meet with family and friends to enjoy the feast. Most importantly, we remember to give thanks. We’re thankful for family, for our homes, for those who helped us get through a rough year, for the memories of those we love who have passed on.
Did you know that expressing thankfulness improves one’s overall sense of well-being? According to medical research, thanksgiving does the following: combats mental health issues, reduces headaches and gastrointestinal problems, improves sleep, and builds good self-esteem. Of course, God’s Word told us in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Job 8:21 tells us that God, “will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Medical research reveals that laughter: reduces pain, reduces blood sugar, improves job performance, enhances our relationships, and helps keep our thoughts focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
For many, this past year may have brought pain. There will be empty chairs around the table; perhaps through death or broken relationship. The absence of loved ones can seem intolerable. We need something to fill the empty spaces. We need our thoughts to be, not on the pain of loss, but on the beauty of what we shared together with those we love. Focusing on happy memories can be sweet, bringing healing to inner pain.
While practicing gratitude, laughter, and positive thinking may not solve a problem, it will definitely ease the burden, making it lighter to bear. When God created mankind, He did a great thing in developing the ability to know thankfulness, to laugh, and to choose to meditate upon things that are “true and honorable, right and pure, lovely and admirable.” (Philippians 4:8) Because of all the benefits we get from positive thinking, no wonder Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Why is it His will? Because He loves us so much, He wants the very best for us at all times. He doesn’t want us destroyed by the ugliness of life; He wants us to know joy and peace that only He can give in the most painful of life’s moments.
I wish you a heart of thankfulness. Laugh a lot. Meditate on what is true and brings joy. Then, know beyond doubt, as we are reminded in Romans 8:28 that, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”