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Gratitude. It’s a virtue that we hear a lot about, but how many of us have truly set our minds to be consistently thankful? How many times do we remind our children, “Say, thank you!” Gratitude is not something that comes naturally. It takes initiative, it must be intentional. It is a discipline that we must practice and incorporate into our lives.

The Hebrew term for gratitude means “recognizing the good”. There are many benefits of gratitude. Psychological studies will prove that gratitude will improve your health, boost your career, improve your relationships, and help you live a happier life. From a spiritual perspective, gratitude brings an increased awareness of God’s presence which in turn lends itself to more gratitude.

John Ortberg states, “More gratitude will not come from acquiring more things or experiences, but from more of an awareness of God’s presence and His goodness. It’s a way of looking at life, always perceiving the good. Gratitude is a by-product of a way of seeing things.”

As Christians, we recognize God as the benefactor of all good things. The Bible says that God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. I stumbled across a blogger who did a tremendous amount of research on this topic. Although he states he is not a religious person, he did note that gratitude increases spiritualism. He writes, “I am irreligious, and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. My solution has been to re-direct my feelings towards Lady Luck.” I pray that one day He will re-direct once again and admit God as His source!

Perhaps you are thinking, “It’s easy to give thanks in good times, but times are aren’t good. Matter of fact, they are pretty bad.” We are to be thankful in all circumstances. We thank God because we can trust Him. We trust Him because of His character –He is loving, kind, and merciful. He has a plan.

Gratitude contributes to a healthy soul. I recently completed the study Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. Similar to what the Israelites did, we were challenged to write down 15 blessings each day in the form of “Bless You, Lord, for.” Even in the midst of suffering and trials, even when we don’t feel like being grateful, there are many, many things we can be grateful for. Writing them down helps us to recognize the good and causes us to give God the credit. He has not forgotten us even in the worst times. Gratitude changes our perception. It helps us keep perspective. It focuses our minds on the things we ought to be thinking about.

This Thanksgiving season, I challenge you to pursue a life of gratitude. Forget not all His benefits. Count your blessings – past, present and future. Write down your blessings daily this month in the form of “Bless You Lord” and let Him prove to you that He is present, He is good and He is Sovereign.

Psalm 92: 1-2 “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High; To declare Thy loving kindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night.”