3-Week Series: Double Blessing

Sermons

Summary: How can we actively show our gratitude to God?

BE ACTIVE IN YOUR GRATITUDE

1 Thessalonians 5:18--18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 25:1, 6-9—

1O LORD, You are my God;

I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;

For You have worked wonders,

Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

6The LORD of hosts will prepare a [b]lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;

A banquet of [c]aged wine, [d]choice pieces with marrow,

And [e]refined, aged wine.

7 And on this mountain He will swallow up the [f]covering which is over all peoples,

Even the veil which is [g]stretched over all nations.

8 He will swallow up death for all time,

And the Lord [h]GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;

For the LORD has spoken.

9 And it will be said in that day,

“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.

This is the LORD for whom we have waited;

Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

Catharsis is defined as the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. In other words, you purge yourself of strong or repressed emotions by releasing them in some way. For example, after a stressful or traumatic event, a person may cry which is the activity of being cathartic. If a person is appreciative of something to a point that they can’t hold their excitement in, they may become cathartic in their gratitude by showing deep appreciation in one way or another.

The guilt associated with failing to meet obligations may cause a person to show gratitude to another whom they have let down, in an attempt to release that guilt. The acts following that event are meant to show the deep appreciation that the friends have for each other.

Additionally, in a more solitary way, possessions left from passed loved ones may provide a sense of serenity that enables the new owner to reflect with gratitude on that object. The use of gratitude serves as an agent of catharsis, and both parties feel satisfied in the end. Which is a pretty good segue into the other reason that gratitude works.

There was an article in the Wall Street journal in 2010 by Melinda Beck that had a line in it that stated that

“…adults who feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.” – Melinda Beck

Cathartic Intensity

In other words, how active are you in your thankfulness to God?

In IS 25:1, the word EXALT is written in a Hebrew form which is intensive. For example, instead of saying “I will sing to the Lord,” you might say “I will openly, gladly, shout songs of praise as I sing unto the Lord.”

There is an intensity in this praise and singing.

Study of 300 young adults

3 groups—

1. One group wrote letters of gratitude each week for 3 weeks

2. One group wrote about deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences

3. One group did no writing

Those who wrote gratitude letter reported significantly better mental health after the writing exercises ended. The findings:

1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions

The group that wrote the letters prospered from using fewer negative emotion words in their letters reported a greater increase in mental health. The attention was shifted away from toxic emotions and more towards appreciation.

2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it

Those who wrote the letters were not required to send the letters, and only 23 percent sent their letters. Just the fact of “journaling” their positive emotions made an impact on their mental health. It was not dependent on actually communicating that gratititude

3. Gratitude’s benefits take time

The increase in mental health benefits increase from week 4 through week 12 according to the participants. It may take time, but as it is repeatedly done, your brain begins to feel better.

4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain

About three months after the psychotherapy sessions began, we took some of the people who wrote gratitude letters and compared them with those who didn’t do any writing. We wanted to know if their brains were processing information differently.

We used an fMRI scanner to measure brain activity while people from each group did a “pay it forward” task. In that task, the individuals were regularly given a small amount of money by a nice person, called the “benefactor.” This benefactor only asked that they pass the money on to someone if they felt grateful. Our participants then decided how much of the money, if any, to pass on to a worthy cause (and we did in fact donate that money to a local charity).

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