The Value of Thankfulness
“Gratefulness is a central theme at this time of year. It turns out that giving thanks—and giving back—can yield a bounty in health rewards.”
At first glance one would think this quote was taken from a religious publication such as a magazine or Bible study lesson. But no. I came across these words in a health magazine while sitting in my doctor’s waiting room.
Indeed, many would agree that being thankful makes one feel better. But does thankfulness facilitate overall physical and mental health? The results of a recent study published in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, affirm that gratefulness does have positive health benefits. Thankful people experience less chronic pain, have stronger immunity, and have positive feelings of wellbeing. In addition, grateful people are more likely to take care of themselves. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctors, all of which contributes to further longevity and well-being.
Gratitude also enhances psychological health. A habit of thankfulness reduces many unhealthy emotions including resentment, frustration, anxiety, and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies that trace the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that, among other things, gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Students of the Bible are not surprised by these scientific facts. A quick word search of the Old and New Testaments revealed dozens of references to thankfulness and gratitude. These many references affirm that gratefulness and thankfulness are embedded in the heart of our Faith.
For instance, Paul writes in Colossians:
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16)
The Bible repeatedly points out the benefits of gratitude. Again, Paul writes: “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. (I Corinthians 1:4 NIV) You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV)
Also, thankfulness strengthens social relationships. Few words have more power for good than a simple “thank you.” Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but has immense personal and health benefits. So, as we approach the Thanksgiving season, let’s be thankful for God’s blessings to us individually and to us as the church at large.
Dr. Wayne Grant,
Chairman of Stewardship Team