Gratitude is good for you. So says Amy Morin, author and therapist. In a Forbes magazine article, she cites scientific research to make her point.
Morin reports that gratitude isn’t just good manners. Gratitude shows you value the contributions of others, and that improves your relationships. One study showed that grateful people are healthier. Gratitude tamps down the toxic emotions of envy, resentment, frustration, and regret. It even helps you sleep better! In other words, these research results agree with the Bible that thanksgiving is vital to the human experience. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:16). This is yet another example of God revealing truth in the Bible for your good, long before scientists arrived.
Should you thank God when it was your friend who did you a favor? Consider this: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17). So, sure, thank your friend. Thank God for your friend and tell your friend as much. Joseph Addison (18th C. British essayist) wrote, “If gratitude is due from man to man, how much more from man to his Maker? The Supreme Being does not only confer upon us those bounties which proceed more immediately from His hand, but even those benefits which are conveyed to us by others.”
Most people aren’t looking for gratitude, hence the response, “It was nothing” (Spanish – “de nada”; French – “de rien”). But leave it out, and it is uncomfortably obvious. Once, Jesus was walking toward a village. Ten men with skin disease saw Him, but maintained their social distance. “Have pity on us!” they cried. He told them to go to the authorities to end their quarantine. As they went, they were healed. One rushed back to thank Jesus and praise God. Jesus said, “Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17). This encounter is a cautionary tale about how easy it is to omit gratitude.
Gratitude to God is the natural response when you contemplate His gifts: the beauty and complexity of the universe and our world; the provisions necessary for human existence and flourishing; the ability to think, love, and create. As you survey God’s gifts, remember His forgiveness, purpose, and hope available to you through Christ Jesus. Joseph Addison penned verses for a hymn about this: “When all thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys, transported with the view, I’m lost in wonder, love, and praise.”
Consider British writer G. K. Chesterton’s challenge: “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Raise your soul and your quality of life by living with gratitude.