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Practicing Gratitude

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In a blog entitled “Thankful for the Fleas” at Christianity.com, pastor, author, and seminary professor James Emery White gives us good food for thought this Thanksgiving month with an illustration from the life of the heroic Christian, Corrie ten Boom:

“The barracks where Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsy, were kept in the Nazi concentration camp, Ravensbruck, were terribly overcrowded and flea-infested. They had been able to miraculously smuggle a Bible into the camp, and in that Bible, they had read that in all things they were to give thanks and that God can use anything for good.
Betsy decided that this meant thanking God for the fleas. This was too much for Corrie, who said she could do no such thing. Betsy insisted, so Corrie gave in and prayed to God, thanking him even for the fleas.

Over the next several months a wonderful, but curious, thing happened: They found that the guards never entered their barracks. This meant that the women were not assaulted. It also meant that they were able to do the unthinkable, which was to hold open Bible studies and prayer meetings in the heart of a Nazi concentration camp. Through this, countless numbers of women came to faith in Christ.

Only at the end did they discover why the guards had left them alone and would not enter into their barracks: It was because of the fleas.”

I love the way God does stuff, don’t you? Just when you think He is absent from life, amazing things can happen through the agency of prayer, sometimes in ways we never think possible and never see coming. God even uses fearsome fleas to answer our prayers! But notice. He does so when in obedience and thankfulness we trust Him.
I want to challenge you to do something during November that I think you will find personally beneficial, and from which, we all will profit. Please employ this Thanksgiving month to give thanks daily to our great Triune God (Eph. 5:20). Take five minutes a day, at the same time every day, to write down three things for which you are thankful to God. You pick the day. You pick time. But please just do it!

Shawn Achor, a psychologist who teaches at Harvard University, suggests that we can train our brains to become more grateful by setting aside just five minutes a day for practicing gratitude. I think he is right. Achor cites a secular study that found that at the end of one month that those who practiced gratitude were happier and less depressed than those who don’t. I suspect that we as Christians in writing down daily at least three things for which we are thankful to God will find similar results after a month.

Beyond this month, however, make thankfulness to God a part of your daily routine. Furthermore, do so regularly in your corporate worship (Ps. 100:4), in your prayers (Phil. 4:6), in every circumstance (1 Thess. 5:18), appreciating your Heavenly Father for who He is and for all He does in your life (e.g., 1 Chr. 16:8; Ps. 7:17; 28:7; 30:12; 35:18; 75:1; 107:1; 118:28; 136:1; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; 9:15; 1 Thess. 5:18; Rev. 4:9). Thank Him for every good and perfect gift He sends your way (Jam. 1:17), but also remember to thank Him for how He uses all things, even fleas, for the good of those who trust Him (Rom. 8:28).

Have a great November and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Your friend and pastor,
Bruce

Author: Bruce Smilie

Pastor - Main Street Baptist Church, Grand Saline, TX bruce@churchonmainstreet.com