The Miracle of Gratitude

Psalm 75 opens with words of gratitude: “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks; your name is near. People tell of your wondrous deeds.”

You have to wonder why so many psalms express thanksgiving. Is it because psalmists tend to be grateful people? Or is it because God wants us to learn how valuable gratitude is to our souls? Or is it a combination of the two?

Robert Holden asserts, “The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.” What I take from this is that when we practice gratitude, we begin to see the world differently, which, in turn, enables us to find more to be grateful for. The practice of gratitude leads to more gratitude. Perhaps psalmists tend to be grateful people because they are actively engaged in the discipline of gratitude. Perhaps we become more grateful people as we practice gratitude more often.

And there are good reasons for us to practice gratitude. Dr. Robert Emmons states, “The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.” Gratitude contributes to our physical and emotional health.

Elie Wiesel probes even deeper. He proposes, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.” In other words, gratitude is essential for becoming all that we can be. God wants to bring us into the fullness of living, so God continually invites us to practice gratitude.

Thornton Wilder puts it this way: “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” It is gratitude that makes us conscious of our treasures. Therefore, we can say that it is gratitude that enables us to come alive.

No wonder so many psalms express gratitude.

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