Discover how this simple habit of keeping a gratitude journal can change your life.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 (ESV)
I've read several articles about the benefits of thankfulness. Studies show that cultivating feelings of gratitude leads to improved mental and physical health. Increased optimism helps us handle stress better, which in turn boosts our immune system. These studies always remind me that the Bible urges us to make a deliberate choice to have a grateful spirit.
Jesus exposed our human tendency toward a lack of gratitude in Luke 17. Ten lepers begged Him to heal them. Jesus told them to go to the priests; as they walked, they were healed. Only one man returned to thank Jesus. When I read Jesus's question, “Where are the nine?” I can't help wondering: Do I only remember to thank Him for my blessings one time out of ten?
I decided to be more intentional about developing the right attitude. I bought a journal to write down things for which I'm thankful. At first, I wondered if it might be hard to think of something to record every evening. But God helped me kick-start this habit the very first day. That morning I had prayed that I would hear from my children over the weekend. It had been a while since I'd talked with my sons; they hadn't returned my latest phone calls. Early in the evening, both of them phoned while I was talking with my daughter. I was able to merge the calls and talk to all three of my children at the same time.
Whenever I hesitate to write in my journal at bedtime, all I have to do is read that first entry. Then I think of all kinds of reasons to be grateful.
FAITH STEP: Why not develop the habit of beginning or ending your day with gratitude for your blessings? List as many specific reasons to thank Jesus as you can think of.