One Word Blog Series: Gratitude
For several years Life Church has challenged its staff, elders, covenant members and regular attenders to prayerfully consider a single word on which to focus for the year. This closely follows the process presented in Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen's book, "My One Word" (http://myoneword.org/). Peppered throughout the year, we plan to present some of these words here, on the blog.
A few years ago on a trip to South Africa, I was introduced to the thankful game. The way it works is every time you travel somewhere, every person in the car says three things for which they are thankful. If you have ever played the thankful game, you know that after about the third round, everyone runs out of the typical, easy answers. Then everyone has to really seek out the good, especially when there are so many things around you that break your heart.
In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom recounts her experience in a Nazi concentration camp, where she and her sister (Betsie) made a conscious effort to give thanks. Despite the horrific conditions, she and Betsie held daily Bible studies in their barracks with the other prisoners. They thanked God they were together, they thanked God they had a Bible, and Betsie even thanked God for the fleas. “’Give thanks in all circumstances,’" she quoted. It doesn't say, "in pleasant circumstances." Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.’” It turns out the fleas were what had kept the Nazis soldiers out of their barracks, which allowed them to hold the Bible studies without being punished.
One thing Corrie and her sister understood is that if God commands us to do something, it’s for our own good. Even science supports this Biblical command. Google the health benefits of gratitude. Recent studies have found that people who were more grateful had better heart health, stronger immune systems, increased well-being, a more cheerful mood, more energy, and slept better. I love it when science confirms what is already in scripture - over and over in God’s Word we are told to give thanks. Just a few examples include:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” 1 Chronicles 16:34.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Colossians 3:17.
In the Book of Luke, he tells the story of the 10 lepers in Chapter 17. After Jesus heals all 10 lepers, only one comes back to thank and praise Him. Only one. After being healed from leprosy. And while all of them were cleansed, only the one thankful former leper was made well (Luke 17:11-19). How much more could a heart of gratitude make us well in 2018?
Gratitude is my word for 2018. Maybe you’d like to join me on this journey of becoming a more grateful person. I’m learning that, like with anything, the more you give thanks, the more second nature it will become. Maybe you start the thankful game every time you get in the car. Or maybe you make a gratitude journal or download a gratitude app, and each day you write down three things for which you are thankful. Even on the bad days where it seems like nothing is going right, there is always something to be thankful for (pretty sunset, a good hair day, or a cozy scarf). There are also the basic things like clean drinking water, fresh air, and the freedom that we so often take for granted. Whatever it looks like for you, even when you don’t feel like it, it is often in the act of giving thanks that we start to feel thankful.
May we look for the beauty around us, give thanks, and ultimately remember we have a good, good Heavenly Father who is the Giver of all good things.
Katie Efird serves as the Director of Children's Ministry at Life Church, and loves being a wife and mom. Email Katie at
- Gratitude App - https://www.happyfeed.co
- One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
- Write the Word Gratitude Journal - https://shop.cultivatewhatmatters.com/products/write-the-word-journal-cultivate-gratitude
- Gratitude Journals - https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=gratitude+journal&sprefix=Gratitud%2Caps%2C147&crid=OZQOLR6MD6WA