by Joani Schultz
It couldn’t be that simple, could it?
Like a lot of people I know, I’m obsessed with healthier living. Anti-aging secrets. Quick fixes. I’m a glutton for the never-ending parade of solutions for my hectic life.
So you can imagine my glee when I learned a simple, no-cost way to activate the gene that will
- lower my blood pressure,
- slow the aging of blood vessels and organs, and
- strengthen my immune system’s ability to destroy cancer cells.
Wow! All I need to do is:
Jot three things I’m thankful for every day.
Ooh! Jot? I like to write.
Three? That’s not too overwhelming. (And scientists said it doesn’t even need to be anything too spectacular to count.)
And “things I’m thankful for every day”? That’s not too hard.
Or is it?
Give thanks in all circumstances.
I know the Bible reminds me to be thankful.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT).
But that’s where the three-a-day prescription gets tricky.
Maybe you’ve felt like me. For the past few months, God has really challenged me. It has been like being on a “gratitude” scavenger hunt—and finding nothing.
Let me explain why:
Cancer. My dear friend and co-worker discovered her devastating cancer diagnosis on the day we were celebrating her 15th year of working together. She was in picture-perfect health.
Failure. We launched a “big idea” at work. And it failed. We just didn’t get enough customers to buy our great concept.
Inadequacy. My aging parents, who live in another state, continually struggle with health issues. And I’m not there to help them.
Senseless tragedy. A sweet married couple we’ve worked with over the years were crippled in a head-on collision that killed one of their elderly parents (on Thanksgiving day, ironically).
Alzheimer’s. My girlfriend’s husband had a stroke and now suffers with Lewy body disease—the same illness that ravaged Robin Williams. One doctor said, “This disease makes Alzheimer’s a welcome friend.” Their lifelong marriage now consists of 24-hour home care for him, and all the while he barely remembers her.
Hopelessness and helplessness. All that’s not to mention what happened on a national and global scale: refugees, poverty, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, presidential campaigning—and the decline in American church attendance.
It wasn’t a year of good news. Yet, every day God brought MORE than three things to appreciate. Although it wasn’t always easy, in the mess of it all, I could thank God for…
- my front-row seat to the Body of Christ living love in action.
- miraculous medical advances for all my friends and family facing health concerns.
- my loving husband, son, daughter-in-love, sister, co-workers, and friends who lift me up—in more ways than you know.
- kind co-workers who support and forgive me in the face of risk taking.
- my understanding that He knows the big picture and “the rest of the story.”
And like the researchers said, gratefulness isn’t just about the biggies.
I’m also thankful for…
- breathing without thinking about it.
- a toilet that flushes.
- laughter down the hall.
- the overwhelming receptivity to The Jesus-Centered Bible. (I’m doubly thankful others are drawn to Jesus!)
- the smell of fresh rain on dirt.
- the scientists who researched thankfulness. (God knew it all along!)
For even more scientific benefits of an attitude of gratitude, check out projectthankfulheart.com.
I’d love to hear what you find hard to be thankful for. Or the little things you notice that make you smile. Send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Oh, cute baby and cat videos are allowed.)