Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thank-You Therapy

In 1989, Don Baker wrote a book of the above title about the therapeutic effects of thankfulness. The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thes. 5:18). But let's be honest; for most of us thankfulness is not natural; we're 'complainers,' by nature. But the therapeutic effect of thankfulness is that it can help us transcend our circumstances.

Please note that Paul doesn’t ‘command’ us to give thanks FOR all circumstances, but IN all circumstances—which challenges us to find reasons to be thankful even in the worst times. Look at a very abbreviated list of David’s Psalms of “Thanksgiving." King David thanks God for His holiness (7:17), His works (9:1), His guidance (16:7), for hope and salvation, and the joy of His presence (16: 9-11).

When you find yourself in “hard-to-thank-you-God” circumstances, these Psalms can help you transcend your troubles. Paul reminds us we have a God who causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Our circumstances may or may not change, but as we align ourselves with God's purposes, we transcend our circumstances. And that is the real therapeutic benefit of thankfulness.


  1. Greg,

    Although Paul does not command us in this passage to be thankful FOR all things he does somehow embed an injunction to do so in the midst of his counsel to the Ephesian church leaders in chapter five of the letter. This is a "head-scratching" passage because of Paul's choice to use the preposition we translate "for" here in Ephesians instead of what was translated "in" in the passage you quoted in 1 Thessalonians 5.

    Probably twenty or so years ago Merlin Carouthers wrote a trilogy of books about taking this command literally. They were entitled, "From Prison to Praise" "Power in Praise" and I don't remember the last one in the sequence. In these books he describes individuals who found themselves in very messy circumstances, mostly causes by their own folly but not exclusively so, but who had chosen to praise God for His sovereignly bringing them to the very point of crisis so they could also make a choice to follow him when all else in their life had collapsed around them.

    Do you remember these books? They caused quite a reaction in the American church world, if I remember.


  2. I do remember his book on priase (dont know which one I read), and the idea was very spiritually logical. You can thank God for everything, knowing it is an opportunity 'for' which and 'in' which to praise Him. It does require an elevated perspective, doesn't it!!