Would you believe me if I told you that thanksgiving plays a key role in keeping your mental health? I’m not talking about the American holiday, with its Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. I’m not even talking about the Thanksgiving holiday per se. I’m talking about being thankful and expressing those thanks, in particular, to God.
There’s a fascinating passage in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, chapter 1. It explains how this world got to be so crazy, with so much unfairness, violence, cruelty, suffering and just general weirdness.
Here’s the passage. It says: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [the people who don’t believe in God] are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”
Do you see the connection between being thankful to God and our mental and emotional well-being? That passage says the evidence for God’s existence and power is clear in the amazing creation we perceive around us, stretching from the minute to the farthest reaches of space. Only a great Creator God could bring into being such a universe. Then it says that because people knew God was God but refused to acknowledge Him or be thankful to Him, their thinking changed. It says their thoughts became futile, useless, twisted, leading to no good. And their hearts—in the Bible the poetic use of the word heart represents our innermost being, the essence of who we are deep down inside, our mental and emotional self—it says their hearts were darkened, became in some way unbalanced, unsound.
The results are listed in the next few verses, and they might as well have been ripped from our current headlines: hatred, lying, murder, dishonesty and theft, sexual perversions, broken families and the sad list goes on. And it says that not only do people choose to live that miserable way, but they encourage and approve others to do the same. The weirdness becomes the norm.
So how do we avoid that? How do we keep our thoughts balanced and useful, constructive and positive? How do we keep our hearts bright and clear, our mental health solid and stable? A main key, we read, is to acknowledge God’s existence and His power, to be thankful to Him for what we have, and to take the time to express our thanks to Him for life and the good things He gives us in life.
Yes, many people mock the idea of a Creator God, the God of the Bible, and that we should be thankful to Him. But that’s the very reason there’s so much evil in the world. You and I, of course, can’t change the minds of the folks that go down that rough and rotten road. But we can choose a better one ourselves. The first step on that road is to thank God for His blessings. Thanksgiving is an American national holiday set aside to do just that, and that’s a good start. But, of course, thankfulness to God should be a way of life.
So, from us here at Life, Hope & Truth, here’s to sound minds and stable hearts. Those begin with being thankful to our Creator.
If you’re celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, may it be meaningful and joyful for you and yours.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Joel Meeker.