Dose of Truth

An attitude of gratitude

Tim Richards

An attitude of gratitude

One of the challenges pastors and writers face is dealing with important topics like thankfulness every year. We must speak about being thankful each Thanksgiving. It’s not that we aren’t convinced being thankful is important, it’s that we’ve communicated our perspective many times before.

One of the passages I’ve often used to teach gratitude is Luke 17, where Jesus tells the story of 10 men who were healed of leprosy. Tragically, only one of the them returned to say thank you. Jesus asked the logical question, “Where are the other nine?” Then He told the grateful man, “…Your faith has healed you.” This year, I came across fresh insight from the story that I had never noticed.

Pastor Steve Malone wondered why Jesus said his faith had healed him when the other nine who weren’t appreciative were also healed. He suggested Jesus’ statement wasn’t merely about physical healing – but was spiritual perspective, too. The healed man was fi nally whole in a way he had never been. Being grateful made him a better, more balanced person.

Some psychologists believe sincere gratitude is one of the healthiest of all human emotions. Hans Selye, widely considered the father of stress studies, has observed that gratitude produces more positive emotional energy than any other attitude.

The truth is an attitude of gratitude that makes us more balanced and healthy than we are when we aren’t thankful. The challenge for each of us is how to develop that kind of attitude.

Several years ago, an experiment was conducted in New York’s Central Park during spring. An advertising agency dressed a person up as a blind man and gave him a cup to collect donations.

They put a sign around his neck that read, “I’m blind.” He sat in the park wearing that message an entire day and received about $4.

The next day they dressed him the same way and placed him in the same spot, but this time they changed his sign to read, “It’s spring and I’m blind.” That day he collected nearly $40.

The difference the three additional words made was perspective. As New York residents enjoyed the beauty of a spring day in the park, they were made aware of how much beauty they would have missed if they had been blind. It put their blessing of sight into perspective and they became more generous.

The challenge of being thankful for each of us comes down to perspective.

It’s possible to have almost nothing and be grateful or to have a lot and never give our blessings a second thought. Our level of gratitude has more to do with our attitude than it does with our circumstances. All of us need to increase our perspective so that we’re truly thankful, not once a year, but each day of the year.

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at iamtimrichards@yahoo.com. Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim’s photos may be viewed at https://flickr.com/photos/pentaxpastor.

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