Tag Archives: thankfulness

God’s Extras

As I mentioned last week, having been  called out of town unexpectedly I will not be writing any new blogs for a couple more weeks. So I am using this opportunity to share with you a few of the inspirational poems that have impacted me over the years. I pray they will impact you as well.

God’s Extras

God could have made the sun to rise
Without such splendor in                                                                 the skies;                                                                                                                               He could have made the sun to set                                                                                 Without a glory greater yet.

He could have made the corn to grow
Without the sunny, golden glow;
The fruits without those colors bright,                So pleasant to the taste and sight.

And caused the apple trees to bloom
Without the scent that doth perfume
Those dainty blossoms, pink and white.
That fill our hearts with sheer delight.

  He could have made the ocean roll
Without such music for the soul—
The mighty anthem,                                                       loud and strong—                                                                                          And birds  without their clear, sweet song.

The charm of kittens’ dainty grace,
The dimples in a baby’s face-    All these are ‘extras’ from His hand,                                                                                                                           Whose love  we cannot understand.

The God who fashioned flow’rs and trees,
Delights to give us things that please,
And all his handiwork so fair
His glory and His love declare.

Yes, He Who made the earth and skies
Gave “extras” for our ears and eyes,
And while my heart with rapture sings,
I thank Him for the “extra things.”

Poem by Margaret Fraser – From… Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (pp. 495–496). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

An Amazing Health Benefit

It’s not a coincidence that within a couple of weeks I read two unrelated yet related articles.

The first was titled Thankfulness Protects Against PTSD. (1) It reported on research that shows thankfulness and gratitude are often one of the responses to tragedy – that in the aftermath of tragedy gratitude helps us grow. “The results of the study showed that the individuals who already had higher levels of gratitude before the shooting were better able to turn their post-traumatic stress into growth. This is actually quite profound. It suggests that if we can help ourselves and others feel more grateful on a daily basis, we can actually prime ourselves to handle the trauma that life will inevitably bring.”

Researchers briefly listed two implications. One is that building gratitude is often an overlooked component of therapy. “Furthermore, findings indicate that mental health professionals should also consider post trauma interventions targeted at enhancing gratitude, thus helping trauma exposed individuals adopt a new, more adaptive perspective regarding their experience, further leading to PTG and positive outcomes in spite of trauma.”

The second is “The church as a whole could also play a part in building a greater communal sense of thankfulness.”

The second article which grabbed my attention was titled Research Shows That Physically Complaining Rewires Your Brain To Be Depressed And Anxious. (2) “According to Clemson University Professor of Psychology, Dr. Robin Kowalski, everyone complains from time to time, but should try to minimize it as much as possible. Bouts of negativity are normal and encouraged to reset our systems. But what you want to be mindful of, is if you are being excessively negative. Remember this: negativity breeds negativity…Negativity Rewires Your Brain…Donald Hebb, a Neuropsychologist, hypothesized that neurons which fire together, wire together. Meaning groups of neurons connect in our brain as a result of particular life experiences…Whenever we think a thought or have a feeling or physical sensation, thousands of neurons are triggered and form an internal neural network. The brain learns to trigger the same neurons with repetitive thinking. That said, we become what we think and say. If you focus on feelings / thoughts of criticism, worry, and victimization, it is much easier for your brain to call those things to the surface. This can lead to serious depression and anxiety.”

The article then lists ‘4 Tricks to Avoid Negativity.’ First on the list is “Show thanks: Even for the little things.” Which, of course, sent my mind back to the first article. The common link: Thankfulness is good for our health. I believe the authors of The Heidelberg Catechism knew this truth. They divided their Christian doctrine into three successive sections: Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude. They believed that once we understand our guilt and the grace of God through Jesus Christ we are empowered to live a life of thankfulness. And what are the components of this thankful living? In this section they included the 10 commandments (not as law but as an expression of thanks) and the Lord’s Prayer. In other words, to develop thankful living live life as God designed it.

The apostle Paul grasped it as well. He wrote, ”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9) What more can I say?

(1) CT online 8-11-17 – (2) www.healthspiritbody.com/complaining-causes-depression-anxiety 


A Thankful Heart

Elderly, old, mature man close up portrait

The following story seems appropriate for this week of Thanksgiving.

An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting. Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables. He bade us good morning and offered his produce for sale.  We were uneasy enough that we made a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear. To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road. As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize it wasn’t alcohol but cataracts that “marbleized” his eyes. On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes, and pull out a harmonica. With glazed eyes set on a future glory, he’d puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion. On one visit he exclaimed, ‘The Lord is so good! I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch.’ ‘That’s wonderful, Mr. Roth!’ we said. ‘We’re happy for you.’ ‘You know what’s even more wonderful?’ he asked. ‘Just yesterday I met some people who could use them.’

So what are you thankful for? And what are you doing with it?

(This story – author unknown – can be found in Stories for the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray, Multnomah Books, 2001, p. 53)