“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
We’ve made another trip around the sun, and this one brought its own challenges and life stages. This week, I am bidding goodbye to the last of my grandparents of the greatest generation, all in the same year. I am watching as my parents ripen into the fullness and grace of the grandparent role. In helping to coach my son’s sports teams, I find that my earthly vessel isn’t giving me the horsepower it once did. Still, in every phase of life, I try to find gratitude in the experience.
The root word of gratitude is gratitudo. It is of Latin origin and traces its roots to the fifteenth century CE. Literally translated, it means “goodwill” or thankfulness. They say grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do. I am grateful to receive both grace and mercy daily.
We typically express gratitude by saying thank you, which has an interesting origin all its own. The English root of the word thank is thanc, which derives from the Indo-European word tong and means “think” or “thought.” When we use the words thank you to express gratitude, it is an intentional action to express thinking of someone else in a spirit of goodwill.
Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can dramatically improve one’s mental health and well-being. In one study, 300 students were divided into three groups before receiving counseling. The first group was instructed to write letters of gratitude for three weeks. The second group was instructed to write down their negative feelings. The third group was the control and only received counseling. The result was that the first group, which focused on gratitude, had the best outcomes compared to the other groups.
In a crazy and increasingly narcissistic world, it is easy to see things that are going wrong and fixate on them. It is not always obvious or easy to consider what is going right and practice gratitude. Our ability to most successfully navigate life hinges on the intentional practice of gratitude so that we realign our perspective with the goodness in the world.
May the Lord bless and keep you this Thanksgiving, make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you and yours.