KOEDYKER: Giving thanks can help a lot

Nov 28, 2011

One day you can be cruising along with things going just fine. And then, all of a sudden — trouble. The marriage you thought was great starts to unravel; the job you loved suddenly is in jeopardy; the financial stability you thought you had turns out to be not as stable as you thought.

Lots of things can happen. Life seems uncertain and ominous.

That is when you can fall into the trap of negativity and pessimism. Everything seems bad, and you get dragged down and overburdened.

How can you approach life in a more positive way and overcome the pain, anxieties and fears that surround us?

I was reading an article on the Internet the other day that, although it wasn’t intended to religious, hit on some things that sounded familiarly biblical to me.
The first thing the author said was necessary to stay positive in life was to express gratitude. Well, that hit home with me immediately — especially as this is the month of November and the time of year that we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

The author suggested making a list of things you are thankful for every night for two weeks. I like that idea! It will get your mind off the negative stuff.

Other things you can do to express gratitude? Write a card or note to someone you are thankful for. Tell them you appreciate how they have been helpful to you in your life. And be polite! Say thank you with a smile to the stranger who holds the door open for you.

Little things, yes — but a number of little things can add up to change how you view life.

Another way to stay positive in this negative world is to volunteer. Volunteering gets your mind off yourself and focused on others. Even studies have shown that community service is more healthy and satisfying than fixating on your own problems. There are lots of volunteer opportunities out there. Do something for someone else!

One more way to stay positive is to look for the good. Remember the old adage, “Every cloud has a silver lining”? Well, it’s true. Yes, sometimes you have to look really, really hard — but it is there. And sometimes you have to wait a while before you can see something good come out of a particular situation.

If you haven’t noticed it by now, none of these ideas are new. They all are found in the Bible. I, for one, am very thankful for these spiritual insights. They all find their origin in God, who always has our best interests at heart. God wants us to give thanks, love our neighbor, and trust Him for what we need.

A verse that I often quote at this time of year is from Psalm 107:1. It goes like this: “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.” If that is true, we don’t have anything to worry about.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you take time to give thanks to God and to the people in your life who are important to you. Let’s take the focus off ourselves, quit navel-gazing, and look for the good things in life.

— By the Rev. John Koedyker, pastor of Word of Hope Church in Fruitport.

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