I suppose I am following that trend in my own way. I decided to write my daily words of thankfulness
on this one lone pumpkin that was the only one to grow in my poor neglected garden this year. I had help writing on my pumpkin from some of my church family, when we gathered over the weekend for some fall festivities, including a hay ride. I asked each family to write down what they were thankful for. After everyone left, I read the words of thankfulness on the pumpkin, and thought about what it truly means to live intentionally each day with gratitude.
What if, instead of just the month of November, this giving of thanks, this writing on social media (or pumpkins for that matter!), was done every day of the year, every year for the rest of our lives? Why do we narrow it down to one month, to 30 days of our 365? That is less than 10% of our year that we choose to focus on thankfulness. So what if, we woke every day with a word of thanks, or ended each day with words of thanks? I wonder how that would change us? This might make a good topic for research.
In fact, it already is. Since the early 2000's there has been growing research into the science of gratitude. The University of California, Berkely, and University of California, Davis has recently committed over $5 million to study and expand a database about gratitude, to site scientific evidence of gratitude as it relates to personal health, relationship and workplace well-being. Research grants and dissertation projects have been awarded with results to be reported in 2014. You can read all about this on their web page, the Greater Good Science center.
I invite them to look at the dissertation of thanks written on my pumpkin, written by people who are experiencing the trials of life, yet who at their core are thankful people. And I would invite them to start including God and His word in their research! They think they have discovered something new? Or perhaps they just want scientific evidence to prove what we Christians already know; that there IS a direct relationship linking
thankfulness to peace and joy within ourselves. It is not a secret, it is not a hidden code, it is plainly written in God's word, the Bible.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is Gods' will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God, and the peace of God, which passes all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 7
Do you notice it? Do you see the correlation between joy, prayer, peace and thankfulness?
Do we really need a $5 million scientific study to prove this to us?
Let's drill down a little deeper by examining the word thanksgiving in the original language of the New Testament, koine Greek. The Greek word for thankfulness is 'eucharistos', which has a connotation of giving, a giving of recognition outside of ourself. It is not simply being glad for something, or glad we are experiencing something. Gladness is directed inward. Thankfulness is directed outward-it is recognising someone beyond ourselves that we give our thanks to. Inside the Greek word for thankfulness is 4 letters which spell 'char'. Char or chara is the greek word for joy. So joy is hidden inside thankfulness. It seems simple to me, joy is released as we display thankfulness, true thankfulness, the daily through thick and thin kind of thankfulness. Without it, our joy gets squashed, and peace does not reign in our hearts and minds. Within the well of thankfulness is a spring from which joy comes. Joyful people are thankful people. And our thankfulness is not just in what we see as good, it is in everything, as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us.
Sometimes it is hard to be thankful, hard to find the joy. Perhaps that is why the admonition to pray is found in both of the above verses. God never expects us to do it alone. He is always there, offering His help, His strength, so that in everything, we can give thanks. And sometimes, it is just a matter of practice. If we daily practice giving thanks for everything: big things and little things, trials and triumphs, things or people that we love and things or people that challenge us, then I think perhaps it won't be long and our attitude of gratitude will make us a walking talking dissertation on thankfulness!
And maybe of joy and peace also!
Who needs a $5 million study? We have the word of God, and it is priceless and full of truth and wisdom for joyful living here, right now, as well as a roadmap to our home in heaven. We have so much to be thankful for, don't we? Happy practicing of giving thanks!
Happy thanks giving!