Day 25 — Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:18–24

“Give thanks in all circumstances” 

Each fall I have the privilege of teaching more than 200 students in Health Dynamics. Many of them are freshmen who are experiencing the typical highs and lows that accompany the first semester of college. This fall was no different, with many of them expressing how “stressed” they were. I shared with my students the idea of actively practicing gratitude as a means of dealing with stress. We give thanks to the Lord each day, but what about the people in our lives? What about when we aren’t feeling especially grateful?

“Give thanks in all circumstances”

I’ve begun the practice of writing letters of gratitude. I write to those who have assisted in my professional development. The friends I’ve known for years. The family with whom I am closest. This practice has had a profound impact on me. I’ve discovered that when I’m feeling the least grateful is when it is most important to practice expressing gratitude. I shared this with my Health Dynamics students and encouraged them to find their own outlet for expressing gratitude. To develop this into a daily habit. 

“Give thanks in all circumstances… do not quench the Spirit… hold fast what is good.”

GK Chesterton writes: 

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

During this season of Advent, may we focus on expressing gratitude in our hearts, focusing it in our minds, and expressing it in our actions.

Brian Rider is an associate professor of kinesiology and the director of the Health Dynamics program at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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