Discovering the Joy of Thanksgiving
By Mark A. Finley
Two of the most positive emotions in our human experience are thanksgiving and joy. They promote health and bring vitality to our entire system. The late world renowned scientist, Hans Selye of Montreal, once said that of all the emotions gratitude is the most powerful in reducing stress and promoting longevity. We don’t meet many healthy people in the latter years of their lives who have a sour disposition. Have you ever noticed that you are naturally attracted to people who live a life of thanksgiving? You may never have met them before, but you’re naturally drawn to them. In this month’s study we will discover what the Bible says about living with a grateful heart and a thankful spirit.
1 Read Psalm 95:2, 3. Describe David’s source of rejoicing and thanksgiving. Compare this with Psalm 26:6, 7.
2 What did David believe at a very existential level that kept him in a spirit of gratitude and praise? Read Psalm 71:6.
3 Describe the link Paul made between grace and thankfulness in 2 Corinthians 9:14; 15? Is grace always enough to be thankful for—even in difficult and trying times?
4 How all-encompassing was this spirit of praise and thanksgiving for Paul? What was Paul’s attitude, even when facing unusual trials?
“Giving thanks for all things to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20).
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
5 Besides praising God for His goodness, what other trait did Paul cultivate as a source of praise?
“For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God?” (1 Thess. 3:9).
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8).
Paul looked for the good in the people around him, and developed an attitude of thanksgiving for their friendship. In the passages above he expresses his thanksgiving that the churches at Rome and Thessalonica were faithful to the cause of Christ. What a positive trait to cultivate!
6 What additional concept led David to be thankful? Is this still relevant in the twenty-first century?
“That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of Your wondrous works” (Ps. 26:7).
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Ps. 139:14).
In this month’s lesson we have studied the attitudes of two significant Bible characters, David and Paul. Their hearts were filled with thanksgiving because they knew that in spite of whatever happened to them, God was still in control. They looked away from the challenges of this life to God’s works and His Word. They praised Him for His goodness revealed in creation and for the friendships He brought into their lives. They praised God not because they didn’t have any trials, but in spite of their trials. They cultivated thankful hearts and joyous attitudes.
Their lives were a tribute to God’s amazing grace. We, too, can live lives of joyous thanksgiving and praise to the One who created us and everything in this world; the One who has given us redemption through Jesus Christ, brought wonderful friends into our lives and is planning an eternal home in heaven for us. These are powerful reasons to, “rejoice in the Lord always.”