WEEKLY WORD from Dr. Andrews – November 25, 2019
Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants in the study to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation. Some psychologists have now declared that, “Thanksgiving is the most ‘psychologically correct’ holiday of the year.” The reason for their announcement is because of research, like this gratitude research, that demonstrates how being thankful makes for better sleep, less anxiety, more satisfaction, and kinder behavior. They also suggest that doing something generous for every member of your family and others during the holiday promotes the spirit of Thanksgiving. They also stress the importance of just listening to people, even if what they are talking about isn’t particularly interesting to you. In other words, as it relates to the family and acquaintances, when people are grateful to and for each other in their actions, it is very encouraging and leads to true understanding of the meaning of Thanksgiving.
In our Christian lives there are many things that encourage us and give us hope, but we know there is nothing that brings hope like our salvation through Jesus Christ. In a world that struggles with the very concept of God, Christians not only believe in God, but believe we can know Him and have a personal relationship with Him. That means we can receive encouragement from Him in His Word. It means that when we pray, we are confident that He hears us and is concerned about the things that are important to us. Remember Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus. This man was seeking to know God, and Jesus told him how he could be part of God’s family. John 3:3, “Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Later John wrote about the family of God and the relationship between the Father and His children, and between His children. I John 5:1-3, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.” As great as it might be to be part of a family here in this life, nothing can compare to being “born by God’s power.” It is the process by which sinful human beings like us can become part of the family of God the Father.
When we share and encourage our family members, we give testimony to the love we have for each other. We like to talk about the good times that we have experienced, as well as how love and support has brought us through the difficulties of life. Looking in on a family from the outside you can only observe the testimony of their love for each other. But being part of that family brings a person into the love and acceptance they observed from the outside. It is our testimony to the world about our family. Just as the psychological report says that doing outward things promotes the spirit of Thanksgiving within a family, we as Christians should do the same in the family of God. The observable things that we do are a testimony that the rest of the world can see. As a result of being part of the family of God there is the safety and peace that comes from knowing that when everything around us fails, we are part of a family that God Himself takes care of. This is our testimony to the world, that Jesus can provide the answers for the problems that people experience in their lives and it is this testimony that can cause someone to desire to part of the family of God.
John also wrote about how the testimony of God is so much more powerful than anything that people can do or say. 1 John 5:9-14, “Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” Do we evidence in our personal lifestyle and daily walk that we are born of God and are a part of His family? Is our testimony one of a family member who is secure in a loving and accepting relationship with the God of the Universe? Do we act like we are assured of a home in heaven? Our testimony about these things demonstrates our true understanding of the spirit of thanksgiving to God and our desire to see others come into the safety of His family.