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Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Wendy Wippel

Thursday at the Wippel house included the obligatory turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, football and Black Friday shopping. Plus we gave thanks. All I am saying is that those pilgrims knew what they were doing. But not with the repast. With the reasons behind it.

As we all know, the Pilgrims were Christians that had separated from the Catholic church of England and who, after a short time in the Netherlands, sailed to establish a new colony in the New World.  And we all know that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving after a very rough year during which their European seeds failed to produce any crops in the Americas and roughly half of the colony died.

What you probably didn’t know is that the Pilgrim religion routinely set aside days for thanksgiving during the week, so the First Thanksgiving was not, in fact, the first thanksgiving. It was just a particularly notable one following the first successful harvest  (of new world foods) The reason that they had lots of other thanksgivings?

Simple. God commands us to be thankful.

More than a hundred times in Scripture, actually. So apparently gratefulness is something that God views as pretty important. 


Well, He desires and deserves for His blessings to be acknowledged. But there’s also another reason. Giving thanks brings blessings back to us.

Blessing #1: Being thankful for what we are given leads us to a knowledge of God. Giving Thanks to God gives us peace:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7 NKJV

Blessing #2: Being thankful to God is a first step towards a relationship with Him.

Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:14 NIV

Blessing #3: Our being thankful for our blessings keep the blessings coming in.

Exhibit A: Israel: And their constant murmuring against God.

God rescued the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, parted the red sea to enable their escape from Egyptian troops, and provided, supernaturally, water and food on their way through the wilderness to the land he had promised. And all they did was complain:.

So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4

Right about there God had had enough. They were ungrateful. And His chosen people paid a penalty:

Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word; 21 but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord— 22 because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, 23 they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. Numbers 14:20-23

Blessing # 4: This one may surprise you. Being thankful makes us healthier. Modern medicine continues to uncover mechanisms by which being thankful interacts with both mind and body to improve both physical health and well being. According to Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of the division of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center,

"If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world's best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system".

Thankfulness helps us deal with stress and regulate mood. Being thankful has been shown to influence levels of neurotransmitters that regulate mood, like serotonin and neuroepinephrin. Our brains are wired such that one particular neurochemical, dopamine, makes us feel happy. But release of the neurotransmitter doesn’t occur until our brain registers that something good happened.

Giving thanks causes dopamine release and therefore helps regulate stress (documented to contribute significantly to both heart disease and cancer) and improves the way we physically feel. (One study in the American Journal of cardiology showed that expressing appreciation had a positive effect on heart rate variability.) 

Being thankful also boosts immunity. Studies performed at the University of Utah found that students who practiced thankfulness (who were also more optimistic) had higher levels of immune cells than those who did not.  And these differences were documented, in another study that studied brain wave patterns in people describing feelings of gratitude with people in whom feelings of gratitude and found completely different brain patterns in the two groups.

I’m convinced. God meant it when He said to give thanks.  And He kind of says that in Romans 12:1-2;

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. NLT

And He kind of gave us His infomercial for health right in Proverbs 3. Thousands of years ago., no less.

My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;2 …For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes (i.e. murmur against God,) ;8 It will be health to your flesh.

I don’t do New Years resolutions. Why set yourself up for defeat? But this year I am dang skippy making a Thanksgiving one.

About Wendy Wippel

Last article: Right on Time 

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