A grandmother was watching her grandchild play on the beach when a huge wave came along and carried him out to sea. She cried out, “Please God, save my only grandson. I beg of you, bring him back.” Suddenly another big wave came along and tossed the boy back onto the beach, good as new. The grandmother looked up to heaven and said: “He had a hat!”
That’s gratitude for you.
Have you noticed that there are some who just can’t be satisfied? There are some - and I’m talking about you and me sometimes - there are some who have a hard time expressing gratitude. Or even feeling it.
In 2001 Stephen Post, a medical school professor of bioethics, created a research group called the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, dedicated to testing and measuring the effects of love, gratitude, and other positive caring emotions in human life. Dr. Post’s research has discovered that spending 15 minutes a day focused on things you’re grateful for can have the following effects on our physical health:
1. It increases your body’s natural antibodies.
2. It increases mental capacity and reduces vulnerability to depression.
3. It creates a physiological state of resonance, improving your blood pressure and heart rate.
That’s gratitude for you. It not only lifts up the recipient, it also gives life to the one expressing it. This is why we’re told time and time again in scripture to give thanks: A thankful heart puts us in right alignment with God and one another.
The Apostle Paul had many reasons to be grumpy, angry and contentious, but he chose another path. Here’s what he wrote:
Always be thankful. Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. (Colossians 3:15-17, NCV)
Ravensbruck was known as one of the worst German concentration camps during World War II. When Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie found themselves imprisoned there, they were disgusted to discover that their barracks were infested with fleas. When Corrie began to complain, Betsie insisted that they instead give thanks, quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” With some persuasion, Corrie finally joined her sister in thanking God for the fleas. Several months later, the two sisters expressed their surprise that the camp guards had never come back to their barracks to disrupt or prevent the evening Bible studies they held for their fellow prisoners. It was then that Corrie realized that the very fleas which she had so despised had actually been a God-sent protection from the cruel guards.
Even in difficult and challenging circumstances, there is always a reason for gratitude. So let me encourage you to give thanks to God, and express gratitude to those around you. Chances are, their life isn’t a cakewalk either.