I just turned 50. I have to say, my 49th year was awesome. I am looking forward to my first year in a new decade for me, my wife, my family and the world. I can’t believe that I am this old. I have been very blessed to live this life and am thankful for the over 18,000 days. There have been bad times, but for the most part I have tried to stay positive and thankful throughout.
I believe this to be one of the best things that you can do – cultivate intentional thankfulness. If we can remember to be thankful for the good things the Lord has given us, our days will be better, no matter the situation. Like many things in life, this is a cyclical process that builds upon itself and results in a life closer to the “Life in the Spirit” that Paul talks about so much.
Now, here is the thing, the last two years have been really tough for our family. I am not going to list all of the struggles here, but when measuring the family’s level of stress, we earn a shockingly high score according to the Holmes-Rahe statistical prediction model. Our score predicts an 80% chance of a health breakdown for us in the next 2 years. Well, too bad Holmes and Rahe. Losers! We have already had multiple health breakdown’s! Wait, never mind…
Well, anyway, If I had to guess, I would bet that you personally have had a few struggles over the last year as well. Using the other very scientific analysis technique of ‘looking at Facebook and Twitter’, I have determined that, for ‘literally’ everyone, 2019 was “kinda crappy”. How the heck do we combat this?
There are several strategies that many have used to combat stress – prayer, reading the Bible or other Biblical literature, serving someone else, worship music, exercise and for me, according to my waistline, food. But one of my favorite strategies is to cultivate a spirit of intentional thankfulness. This is also one of the Bible’s best recommendations.
When we are going through the most difficult of times, searching for reasons to be thankful will help alleviate stress, fear, worry and sorrow. Praying about a situation while thanking God for the good things delivers great results, if for nothing other than our attitudes. I also find that searching for those things to be thankful for helps squelch any negativity spirals. Even better, as I stated before, living with a thankful heart will increase our ability to live in the spirit and being us closer to the Lord.
But, one more thing – don’t wait until the tough times to start practicing. Yes, by nature I am a positive person, but I believe that even the most cynical person can learn to look for things to be thankful for if they practice. I’m not always able to remember to be thankful, but I know that if you plant your seeds of thankfulness in the good times, you will harvest joy in even the hardest of times.
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– Ephesians 5:20
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
– Colossians 3:15-16
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
– Philippians 4:6