Be Thankful – Good Medicine for the Troubled

There are many man-made formulas for peace of mind, but none is so effective as the command of God to be thankful. Paul in writing to the church at Colossae encouraged the believers with these words:

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Once a year in the United States the President sets aside a day for thanksgiving. He calls upon the people of the nation, as he did in a recent proclamation, to consider the “richness of our blessings,” “our bountiful harvests,” “our productivity of goods abundant,” and the privilege “to walk as free men unafraid.” Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, Harry S. Truman, 1948. It is good to remind ourselves of such things once a year. But it is far better to set a time each day to ponder the things for which we should be thankful.

The spirit of thankfulness is like a tonic. It causes one to lift his head, to walk more erect. It smooths the ruffled brow, and places a smile upon the countenance. “Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise.” The Ministry of Healing, 251.

Thus we are admonished by the prophet Samuel, “Consider how great things He hath done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24); and our hearts should respond as did the psalmist, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psalm 126:3).

Just the uttering of praise and thanks sends the blood coursing through one’s veins faster, cleansing out the impurities of the mind and the heart, and giving health to the bones.

Again we are told, “It is a positive duty to resist melancholy, discontented thoughts and feelings—as much a duty as it is to pray.” The Ministry of Healing, 251.

Certainly we have much to be troubled about, for there never was a time when so many demands were made upon us. Life becomes more and more complicated and uncertain every day. We seem to be hedged about by unpleasant events over which we have no control. We often feel disconcerted in the face of issues that must be settled without delay. How can we remain calm and collected in such a time as this?

The best way to do it is to have a background of confidence that we have an Almighty Helper at our side every moment, and that He will not permit any circumstance to overwhelm us. We need constantly to remind ourselves of this, and be thankful for it. This is what Paul meant when he wrote the words quoted before. Weymouth’s translation reads:

“Let the peace which Christ gives settle all questionings in your hearts, to which peace indeed you were called as belonging to His one Body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15, literal translation).

The consciousness that we are not alone in the daily conflict, that we belong to a body of people who are called to peace through Christ, tempers every trial and helps to settle all our questionings. This is one of the greatest blessings that the Christian way of life has to offer. We not only look forward to the day of salvation, when we shall be delivered wholly from earthly conflicts, but we are promised daily deliverances here and now. That is why Christ bade us pray, “Deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). This freedom comes not by its removal, for this is impossible in an evil world, but by God making evil powerless over us, even as rain is repelled by a waterproof garment. We can then say with Paul, “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24).

How thankful we should be for these spiritual blessings that moderate the trials of life. And the more we are thankful for them, the more they can do for us. Of this we read:

“It is for our own benefit to keep every gift of God fresh in our memory. Thus faith is strengthened to claim and to receive more and more. There is greater encouragement for us in the least blessing we ourselves receive from God than in all the accounts we can read of the faith and experience of others. The soul that responds to the grace of God shall be like a watered garden. His health shall spring forth speedily; his light shall rise in obscurity, and the glory of the Lord shall be seen upon him.” The Desire of Ages, 348.

When we think of our material blessings we may not have as much as some for which to be thankful. We may be poor in this world’s goods; we may have afflictions of the body and be restricted in our activities. It may seem, as we compare ourselves with others, that we have little to call forth thankfulness. But all have the same access to the storehouse of heaven, and we are only limited by our faith in laying hold of the spiritual blessings God so freely offers to all. If it is money you need, God can bless the little and make it sufficient. If it is health you need, God can give you the grace to endure the trial. There is no material need of man that some spiritual grace cannot match. Just take the key of faith and open God’s treasury, and there you will find all that is necessary for a life of happiness. Help yourself to the riches of joy and gladness stored up in Christ Jesus.

There are two ways to multiply our blessings. One is to recognize them. The other is to share them. This is an axiom of life in general, and of Christian life in particular. To let money lie idle often defeats one’s purpose. But to put it into circulation, and let it produce something useful to others, is the best way to increase one’s own benefits. This law of economics is recognized in the business world. It was recognized by Christ in the parable of the talents. The man who buried his one talent in the ground, thinking he would have wherewith to meet some future need, learned to his great regret that even that which he had felt was so secure was taken from him.

Exaggerated self-interest leads sooner or later either to poverty of material things or poverty of soul. What, then, should be the response of one to every blessing that is received? “Freely ye have received,” saith the Master, “freely give” (Matthew 10:8). And the psalmist asks, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits” (Psalm 116:12)? There is no peace for one who simply offers thanks for what he receives. He must likewise be glad for the opportunity to serve. To give is life; to stop giving is death. To Abraham, God said, “I will bless thee, … and thou shalt be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). The one who stops being a blessing will soon lose the blessing.

There are too many people today talking about the Bill of Rights and forgetting the bill of responsibilities. We love our freedom to do as we wish. But does what we wish include the desire to be of some help to others? No nation, no people, no individual, would have any freedom at all if no consideration were given to human relationships.

Above all, spiritual life is absolutely dependent upon the act of sharing. One concerned only with his own salvation is doing the very thing that will keep him from receiving what he desires.

So let us be thankful for the faith that helps us lay hold upon the eternal riches, for the hope that keeps us patient until we fully realize all that God has promised, and for the love that prompts us to give thanks for blessings bestowed and leads us to share them with others. This is the way of peace to which we are called. Let us walk in it.

Thoughts of Peace, Frederick Lee, 1950, 24–27.

Reader’s comment: “This is a wonderful ‘nugget’ to help a person find true peace in this turbulent world that we live in. Even though it was written in 1950, it is very relevant to today. If you are struggling with finding peace, this book will be a great source of comfort and direction in finding it.”