Have you ever thought of gratitude affecting your health? The Bible says in I Thessalonians 5:18, In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. Christians should be the happiest and most joyful people on the earth. People should want what we have. We are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We are Christ’s ambassadors. But how can we be like Him when our hearts are unthankful and full of negative thoughts and emotions?
God’s word says to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Rejoice is a verb and involves action – such as smiling, laughing, dancing, jumping, singing, shouting and witnessing! Do you have the light of joy shining out of you? Do people see joy on your face and in your life? Do you attract people to you with joy or drive them away?
HRV (heart rate variability) is a measure of your ANS (Anatomic nervous system) and how stress is affecting your heart. When you are stressed or anxious, angry, bitter, etc, the HRV pattern becomes more erratic and disordered, and sends a chaotic signal to the brain, stressing you out and can cause a stuck stress response. Sustained positive emotions such as gratitude, love, and joy are associated with highly ordered patterns on HRV and associated with a reduction in stress. The SNS (Sympathetic nervous system) and PNS (Parasympathetic nervous system) are balanced or synchronized. I recommend 10 belly laughs a day to all my patients, but I have found that most patients with chronic disease laugh only rarely. Children laugh 400 times a day, while adults laugh only 15 times a day. If we allow the devil and circumstances in our lives to dictate our joy then we will never find a way to be thankful and have a grateful heart.
There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness can come from things and be external, but true joy comes only from knowing the Lord. It’s in our hearts and becomes part of our very character. To enter into joy begin practicing gratitude. Hebrews 13:15 tells us to offer the sacrifice of praise. In Acts 16:20-25 Paul and Silas were thrown into prison, but when they began to praise the Lord the chains were broken and they were freed supernaturally. King David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He wrote most of the book of Psalms which are full of praise and adoration for God in the midst of hardship and trials.
Joy is a fruit of the spirit. Fruit is grown, while gifts are given. We have to cultivate our gifts by reading God’s word and practicing thankfulness and gratitude for all His many blessings in our lives. The devil is not mainly after your finances, your health, or your family…. but your joy. He cannot bear for us to become like Jesus and walk in His Spirit, because all the blessings of the Kingdom will manifest in our lives, causing great destruction to his world. First Peter 1:8 says we are to rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Gratitude is the entry door to joy. Psalm 100:4 says, Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.
Psychologists have found that people with grateful hearts make more money, have longer marriages, more friends and social life, more energy, better physical health, a stronger immune system, lower stress levels, and a longer life. Research proves that expressing gratitude makes everyone happier – you and those around you. We should teach our children to practice gratitude by asking them every day: What was the best thing that happened to you today? Who or what are you thankful for today? As a student at Oral Roberts University we often heard Oral Roberts say, Something good is going to happen to you today.
Ingratitude does the opposite – many Christians have strong ingratitude. Philippians 2:14 says, Do all things without grumbling, faultfinding and complaining. Our hearts shrink and become cold and unable to hear the voice of God or to be led by his Holy Spirit. Like the movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His heart was two sizes too small, but when he realized that he was loved and accepted his heart grew three sizes in a day. Gratitude expands our spiritual heart in the same way.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that leads to joy and contentment. I Timothy 6:6-9 tell us that godliness with contentment is great gain. There are many stresses and opportunities for discontentment, jealousy, envy, self-pity, bitterness, and every negative emotion coming at us all the time to steal our joy. We have to make a decision within ourselves each and every day and hour to be thankful and joyful. This is where the kingdom of heaven is within us, and this is where we walk in wholeness, body, soul and spirit.
Make a gratitude list and add to it every day. Remember to laugh and be thankful. You will be adding to your emotional bank account and find that you are walking in divine purpose and health.
Written by: Don Colbert, M.D.