"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you." I Thessalonians 5:8
I don't enjoy giving thanks when bad things happen. It's counter-intuitive. I have been betrayed by those I loved deeply. I've been lied to, stolen from, spit on for no fault of my own, falsely accused, publicly humiliated, and trampled. God, how can I give thanks for that? And how can you expect me to?
But the Bible doesn't say "FOR everything give thanks" but "IN everything give thanks."
One of my favorite pastors and authors is Richard Wurmbrand, who was tortured for 14 years by the Communists of Romania before escaping and founding "The Voice of the Martys". He spent two years in solitary confinement, which drove most men mad. His joy in spite of unspeakable pain and suffering was always a mystery to me. I mean, I can see how he was happy to be forgiven and heavenbound, but how could he not be mad at God for allowing him and his family to suffer so much?
His shining testimony proves his attitude was the right and best one. For his years in prison were not spent as a griping, bitter old ungrateful man being ground down by the boots of communist torturers, but he was a soul-winner who lead both communists and fellow prisoners to Christ. As David Crowder sang, Wurmbrand was a "seed" and when he was stomped down into the dirt, it only caused him to bring forth good fruit! Wurmbrand always defended the goodness of God and always showed the love of Jesus to others in practical ways. He always found something to be thankful for. Suffering improved his character, and didn't stifle his love for God and others.
Science affirms the attitude of Richard Wurmbrand was not only biblical and right, but healthy! The science proving GRATITUDE is GOOD FOR YOUR BODY AND MIND and is LIFE-PROLONGING is profound! Multiple studies have been done on this, and here is a summary of those findings. Well well worth the read.
Here's some highlights:
* Prevents over-eating.
* Strengthens the immune system.
* Improves pain tolerance.
* According to multiple measurements, gratitude prolongs life!
* Makes you more forgiving.
* Improves patience and resiliency.
* Reduces depression.
* Improves outcomes in patients recovering from addition.
* Contributes to feelings of happiness.
* Strengthens romantic relationships
* Improves glucose levels in diabetics.
* Improves survival rates in heart disease patients.
* Lowers blood pressure.
Blood pressure that averages 140/90 has twice the rate of heart attack and stroke compared to 125/75, so if you have hypertension, think of gratitude as life-saving medication!
Don't be grateful because you feel like it. Be grateful for the same reason you bathe, you brush your teeth, you take your medicine, you wake up and go to work, and you eat healthy. Be grateful because you have to. It's best for you and for everyone around you.
Ungratefulness is a vacuum that sucks the joy out of the room. Gratitude is a fountain of living water.
James P. Johnston, D.O.