Friday, October 25, 2019

You Can’t Be Negative When Saying, “Thank You”

(Note: This was first written for my church newsletter in November 2019.)

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (emphasis mine)

As I mentioned in my newsletter column last month, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking with people and thinking about how to counteract the negativity, fear, and division we are seeing in our world today. I’ve also been looking for simple “life hacks,” or easy daily practices, to help in concrete ways. If the opposite of faith is fear, then overcoming this negativity is a spiritual exercise.

As we head into the month of November, the most celebrated holiday of this month can be one of those life hacks: thanksgiving. 

A quote that has always stuck with me comes from The Apology of Justin Martyr, in which Justin, one of the earliest church leaders, writes, “Christians are people who are always giving thanks.” When we are giving thanks, it is nearly impossible to be afraid or angry. When we are grateful, it almost automatically turns our eyes to God who is the source of every good thing. 

I know many people in recent years who have started a thankfulness journal in November, writing down or sharing a different thing every day for which they are thankful. By doing this on a regular basis, we actually train our brains to look for good things around us and focus less on negative things. (There’s even brain science to back this up, but I don’t have a reference for you.)

So I’m planning to do the same this year, sharing every day something for which I’m grateful and invite you to join me. I’ll be sharing on facebook, where you can share with me, or tell me in person whenever I may see you. (For an added challenge, join me in taking no freebies. Whatever the first five things that come to mind right now are can’t be used.)

May thanksgiving become a natural way of life for us all and a tool for us to Share the Love of Jesus Christ with All People. And as we do, know that I give thanks for you, my siblings in Christ, for your faith and witness. 

In God’s Amazing Grace,
Pastor Ari

P.S. I found a great blog with Biblical memes about gratitude you can share or use for inspiration. You can find it here.

"And I am thankful that I'm incapable of doing any good on my own." -Caedmon's Call, "Thankful"

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