The Therapy of Thanksgiving, Part 3

Psalm 92:1-5

(1) It is good to give thanks to the Lord And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; (2) To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night, (3) With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, With resounding music upon the lyre. (4) For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. (5) How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep.

Not only does thanksgiving encourage a grateful spirit, it also engenders a positive attitude, as the Apostle Paul testifies:  2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”   (New American Standard Bible. [NASB] Copyright ©  1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.) But, unlike the way the world will attache a positive attitude obtaining wealth and material gain, Paul’s attitude of gratitude is somewhat different.

Indeed, his main priority for being thankful would not measure true happiness by an affluent or wealthy style of living, like the kind we enjoy in our culture today. Instead, his thanksgiving would rest on being content in whatever situation he was in whether he would have many possessions or none at all. Thus, he could be thankful in any extreme situation.

This is reflected in the attitude he had about contentment. He testified to the Philippians, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want,” (Philippians 4:12, NASB).

Now, how could he say this? you might ask. What was the secret of his ability to adapt to any circumstance he faced? His answer: A positive attitude toward the power of Christ and what it enabled him to do. For he positively declared, “I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength,” (v. 13, NASB).

Because of his attitude, Paul was able to be thankful in spite of the bitter persecution he experienced for being a witness for Christ. And he DID go through his share of suffering for Christ:

  • His stoning at Lystra;
  • Being forcibly driven from Thessalonica;
  • Rejected at Athens;
  • Jailed at Philippi;
  • Apprehended at Caesarea;
  • Hauled to Rome as a prisoner;
  • Bitten by a poisonous snake;
  • Whipped to receive 39 lashes;
  • Threatened with death if he continued to preach the Gospel;
  • Suffering imprisonment again;
  • Released from jail, again;
  • Put into a Roman dungeon;
  • And, according to tradition, martyred.

And yet, in spite of all these trials, Paul could absolutely, positively say, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord!”

And he was being humble, too. He did not thank God for any superior standing among others. He was not like the Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not as other men.” That’s the wrong kind of thanks because it is based on arrogance and pride. It is good to give thank, but not when it is given in an attitude that’s full of egotism. Rather, it should be given in the attitude of humility for as Paul urged the Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves….Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,” (2:3-5). 

A positive, humble attitude of thanksgiving is therapeutic in that, for example, it enabled the apostle to forget the bad, leaving it behind, and to be grateful for the good, anticipating a brighter, better future. A positive attitude never fails to give us something good to be thankful for, even when we have to be inconvenienced at times.

Once there was a Sunday School teacher who asked her class what they were thankful for. One little boy in the class raised his hand, and replied, “Teacher, I am thankful for my glasses I’m wearing.”

“Why are you thankful for your glasses?” she asked.

“Well,” he explained, “they keep the boys from fighting me and the girls from kissing me.”

Thanksgiving allows us to see the positive side of things even when there’s not very good news going on. As Christians, we know that Bible prophecy says in the last days before Christ comes there will be perilous times. And this is truly the way it’s becoming. On the other hand, we must be careful not to develop such a gloom and doom attitude that we run around like Chicken Little crying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and then scare everyone out of their wits, in the process. That’s not faith, that’s fear.

So, in spite of all the crime, all the failed marriages, all the violence, and all those suffering from job loss, we can be thankful that there are still millions of others who are NOT involved in crime, whose marriages have NOT broken up, who do NOT commit violence, and who have NOT lost their job, BUT perform their jobs successfully,  who live as good, descent citizens, who remain faithful to their spouses; and who actively serve the Lord.

Just remember: The therapy of thanksgiving helps our inward look by balancing a negative down look with a positive outlook through a genuine up look toward Christ. And the good thing is that others can see how this therapy benefits us in so many ways.

Good News to You!

Pastor Michael

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