From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 3 – Cultivate the attitude of thankfulness until it is a habit
God tells us repeatedly to be thankful. When we are it has the effect of opening our own eyes. It enables us to see the world more realistically. It puts our circumstances into perspective and corrects the way we see God and the people around us. Expressing our gratitude in one area also helps us to see what else we have to be thankful for. So, don’t wait until you already feel thankful. Express thanks now, regardless of how you feel.
Do it as a decision of your will, even if you don’t yet feel thankful. Later on your feelings will follow your actions and come into line with what you are saying. Expressing thankfulness lifts your own spirit, changes your mood, and will help you to actually become thankful. It does so even if you weren’t feeling that way when you began giving thanks.
Thankfulness helps us to endure things more patiently
Expressing thanks also helps us to grow in patience and endurance. It alters the way we see things and gives us peace and greater resilience. A thankful person can endure far more than a person who is ungrateful. That is partly because they see the world, and their situation, more accurately. They will take into account the positive factors which are so easily forgotten if we are focusing on what we lack, or on something which has annoyed or disappointed us.
This is so important. A thankful person will become, and remain, an encouraged person. If so, they will be very difficult to defeat. However, a complaining person will, inevitably, become discouraged. As such, they will be much easier to defeat. They will find it much harder to overcome their circumstances or to win the battles which life throws at all of us.
Thankfulness is good for our health, spiritually and physically
The habit of being thankful if, practised over a long period, will have a powerful effect even on our health. It will change us spiritually and physically. We know, even from our own experience, that that is true. I also know from a consultant I know who specialises in mouth and throat cancer that there is a distinct pattern among the patients they see. It tends to be men who are bitter, angry and unhappy that get most of these cancers. The Bible would support that general point:
A joyful heart is good medicine,Proverbs 17:22 (NASB)
But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”Nehemiah 8:10 (b) (NASB)