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Summary: Fixing our “thanking” errors can help us fix many of our “thinking” errors.

Overcoming Unthankful Thinking

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Intro: Life’s circumstances are often unpleasant, unfair, and may not automatically invoke a sense of gratitude. Sometimes when we face trying circumstances we tend to react in ways that are unhelpful. Behavioral experts have identified a number of thinking errors that are fairly common among people from all walks of life. Many of these are defense mechanisms we think will help us cope with disappointment, stress, grief, or trauma. However, as I was looking at them, I realized that several of them moved in a direction that led away from a spirit of gratitude. Granted, some things in life are very hard to be thankful for. It seems like even in our small community there is one tragedy after another. How can we be thankful for those? Especially in the midst of grief and unbelievable sadness?

-Well, the Bible does talk about that, but first it helps to realize that God fully understands what we are going through even in our most trying times. Even when we face pain and grief, God wants to help us guard our hearts and attitudes and maintain a sense of gratefulness to Him for who He is and all He has done. Yes, we may find ourselves in escape mode sometimes as we deal with our problems, but God is very gracious to us and wants to teach us how not to let our problems define us. If my problems make me bitter, harsh, and unthankful, then I am allowing them to define me. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. God wants to help us learn to find His blessings in each circumstance, and be grateful to Him for working all things together for our good. It really boils down to a trust issue. Do we really believe that God is in control and can handle anything, or does He lack the power, ability, or time to be who He has always been and come through for us? If we can begin to understand today that thankfulness is a form of praise directed to our Creator and Savior, it will help us get our thinking straight as we face the struggles of this life. And that’s the main thought today:

Prop: Fixing our “thanking” errors can help us fix many of our “thinking” errors.

-Before we look at some common thinking errors, let’s talk about a practical benefit that comes from being a thankful person.

I. Our Thoughts Affect Every Area of our Lives!

-Dr. Michael Jacobson cited a study in which patients were asked to recall various types of emotional experiences while doctors monitored how it affected their bodies. Each patient was asked to relive the experience in their minds for five minutes.

-When the patients thought for five minutes about experiences that made them depressed, they found out that it affected the patients’ immune system and their antibody levels dropped 55%. Six hours later, their immune system was still depressed.

-But when the patients thought for five minutes about situations that made them happy, their antibody levels rose 40% and it was still elevated six hours later. (“Stress and the Heart” Dr. Michael Jacobson, October 1996). This is medical evidence that the thoughts we think affects our bodies, either positively or negatively. http://www.kentcrockett.com/

-The Bible shows the lack of gratitude as one if the identifiable marks of a person who has drifted or is drifting away from God.

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

-Some of our thinking can be counter-productive to a thankful heart and to good mental health. These errors in thinking, if taken to the extreme, can inhibit both personal growth and growth in relationships, both socially and spiritually. Here is a list of some thinking errors that are not compatible with thanksgiving:

II. Common Thinking Errors That Can Cause Harm

1. All or nothing thinking: You see things in extremes, everything is black or white. This can be obvious or subtle for example saying 'He is always late, but I never get angry over it'. This mindset can be that of the perfectionist also.

2. Minimizing or catastrophizing: You exaggerate the importance of small things. 'The entire meal was ruined because the desert was not served promptly.' Is this a catastrophe? An example of minimizing is taking a significant issue or event and reducing its importance so it appears inconsequential. People often do this so as not to have to deal with uncomfortable emotions or consequences.

3. Overgeneralization: You take a single event and draw general conclusions that it is universally true. If your date is late you say 'All men/women are always late'.

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