Author Dennis Prager made a penetrating insight with respect to gratitude in his book “Happiness Is A Serious Problem”. He wrote: “There is a secret to happiness and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.”This is a great observation and it helps explain why the Christian tradition places such emphasis on thanking God.
Thanksgiving Is At The Core Christianity
The Christian Scriptures and liturgy is filled with expressions of gratitude. For example, Psalm 92 begins with these words: “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.”
Why is it good? Is it because God needs our gratitude? No. There are 2 reasons that come to mind right away. First of all, God doesn’t need our gratitude, but He is worthy to receive our thanks and praise. Both for who He is and what He has done for us in Christ. And secondly, we need it. Learning to be thankful to God and to others is good for our soul. It gets the focus off ourselves and onto the LORD and others. Being overly occupied with ourselves and being ungrateful are the sources for much of our unhappiness.
Research Studies Confirm The Power of Thanks & Praise
A few years ago, Dr. Nick Stinnet of the University of Nebraska conducted a group of studies called the “Family Strengths Research Project.”
Stinnet and his researchers identified 6 qualities that make for strong families. The first quality, and one of the most important, to be found in strong families was the quality of appreciation. Families that are strong, Dr. Stinnet concludes, because family members express their appreciation to each other.
In a similar study, another researcher looked into the effect of praise in the workplace. His study showed that the ratio of praise to criticism in the workplace needs to be 4 to 1, before employees feel that there is a balance. When there is 4 times as much praise as there is criticism, employees feel good about there work and about the environment they work in.
This is staggering information but it should not be surprising for the Christian. In order for our families and workplaces to thrive, gratitude and praise needs to be strongly present. This is exactly how God has designed His creation.
Furthermore, for the Lord’s work and presence to thrive in our lives, we need to be giving thanks and praise to the Lord. The LORD says this to us in Psalm 50:23: “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” In the Bible, salvation does not just refer to what we experience in heaven after we leave this present old earth. It also refers to the ongoing, gracious working and presence of God in our lives now.
In other words, as we practise thanks giving to God and others, it expands our capacity to love and care according to God’s design for humanity. We thrive in our marriages, families and workplaces. In all those important areas of life, we experience the healing and blessing of God. This is Good News indeed.
QOTD: Are you a grateful person or a grumbler?