Thanksliving: Universal Antidote for Toxic Emotions

1 Thessalonians-5 18 New

Exactly one week ago, I was honored to share the Word of God at Operation More Compassion, a local suicide prevention ministry, founded by Pastor James Simmons, a student at Carolina College of Biblical Studies where I teach.  As I reflect back on the events that unfolded during a week of physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of immense magnitude, I recognize that the entire service was not just an opportunity to share the Word of God, but everything was custom-crafted to prepare me for the grueling week that began that very Sunday.  Invariably, I have learned that whatever God inspires you to teach others, He is first of all teaching and ministering to you. Today’s post summarizes the teaching shared a week ago: Thanksliving: Universal Antidote for Toxic Emotions (“Stinkin’ Thinkin’”)

In critical situations where a person may have accidentally ingested a poisonous substance, the Poison Control Center, if contacted, can suggest a specific antidote to counteract that poison. In some cases a “universal antidote” is recommended. Activated Charcoal has the well-earned reputation of being a key ingredient in a “universal antidote” that can facilitate the removal countless poisonous substances before they can cause harm. In terms of counteracting the potentially crippling negative effects of fear, anger, disappointment, discouragement, despair, all of which can culminate in unbelief that stifles our confidence and trust in God’s promises, I recommend another “universal antidote” to counteract any and all of these negative issues of life. A heavy dose of “thanksgiving” will counter the potentially crippling negative effects of any toxic emotions of life.

When most people hear the term “thanksgiving,” there is an almost automatic association with the fourth Thursday in November and all the food and festivities associated with that national holiday. For believers, “Thanksgiving” is always appropriate. “Thanksgiving” is the reason, not only for the current season as we embark upon a New Year, but “thanksgiving” should be the reason for every season.

In its most basic sense, “thanksgiving” applies an essential principle of life: giving and receiving. When one gives, one receives, and always in greater proportion than one gives. Although many people think of giving and receiving in terms of tithes and offerings or of giving of material abundance within a church or religious context, the universal principle works in all aspects of life—particularly in “thanksgiving.” In its most literal sense, the term means “to give thanks” or “to show oneself grateful.”  It is an expression of gratitude, a form of prayer specified in I Timothy 2:1 “. . . requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. . . .”

As Christian believers, giving thanks to God for His grace and goodness is a positive expression that reverses the negative thinking pattern generated by toxic emotions We cannot truly be thankful and feel fearful or disappointed or resentful at the same time, nor can we be angry or discouraged or jealous when we see all that God has done for us and express our gratitude to Him at the same time. Certainly we cannot simultaneously sink to the depths of despair when we recognize how blessed we have been thus far, as we anticipate even greater blessings on the horizon, for the best is always yet to come with God, our beneficent Father.

God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times. The Word of God reminds us of this truth in a number of places:

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A similar reminder is found in Ephesians 5:20:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God reveals that the giving of thanks is to be more than an occasional act of gratitude; it is to be an ongoing part of our lives.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT):

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.         

Perhaps the most dramatic reminder to live in continuous thanksgiving is found in I Thessalonians 5:18:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Every situation offers an opportunity to be thankful, no matter how bright or bleak life may be. We can always find something to be thankful for, if for nothing more than that we are alive or that our situation could be worse. We can begin with thanking God that we are alive and then adding to the long list of blessings we are enjoying at that moment. Each time we set our minds to be thankful, we are doing the will of God, which is the innermost desire of every believer. To give thanks is to do the will of God.

Feeling disappointed, discouraged, and in despair or having other negative feelings is sometimes described as “stinkin’ thinkin’” which can directly affect how we act. One of the critical factors in our physical and emotional well-being is attitude. The discussion of attitude comes full circle with this reminder that “attitude begins with gratitude.” J. Rufus Moseley speaks of “an attitude of gratitude and boundless good will.” For believers thanksgiving is a magnificent and joyful “response-ability”; that is, our ability to respond to God’s love and grace. We endeavor to demonstrate our gratitude to God from the fullness of our hearts, overflowing with thanks. More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we desire to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” a lifestyle that some have called thanksliving.

More than merely saying “thank you” to God, more than simply tithing or sharing of our abundance or giving of our time or material goods, thanksliving is a way of life, expressing gratitude to God in everything we say and do. It is more than the arrival of Friday (TGIF), for which the workaday world thanks God. For believers, every day should be a day of living in thanks. We show with all our being, “Thank God it’s Sunday through Saturday.” As we do so, we counteract the negative effects of fear, disappointment, discouragement, despair and any other toxic emotions or “stinkin thinkin” that keeps us from being all that God designed us to be.

We close with these encouraging words:

At All Times                      

I will bless the Lord at all times,

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  

Psalm 34:1

 

When we see God’s goodness and mercy flow freely,

As we savor the ecstasy of victory,

When joy overflows and floods our soul, we must praise God.

 

When gripped by the devices of this transient life

And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,

During these difficult moments, we must seek God.

 

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood

And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,

From the depths of our soul, we must worship God.

 

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,

When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs your brain

So that we can scarcely scream His name, we must trust God.

 

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,

Through every why and wherefore, for every reason

Every moment we draw breath, we must thank God.

 

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

Finally, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir offers this musical reminder: “In Everything Give Him Thanks”:

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2 Responses to “Thanksliving: Universal Antidote for Toxic Emotions”

  1. ponderosapapa Says:

    God’s design for us is to focus on Him and when we do that, we can’t help but give thanks for His goodness. Our focus on Him takes our focus off of our stinkin thinkin.

  2. Dr. J Says:

    I apologize, but I just noticed your reply. Thanks for taking the time to comment. You are certainly correct: changing our focus to think on the goodness of God instead of our “stinkin thinkin” makes all the difference. God bless.

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