I’ve always argued that the commandments of God are not given to us in order to keep us from the enjoyable things in life. On the contrary, they are given to us so that we’ll live the best possible lives in this fallen world. God always has our best interests foremost in mind when he allows suffering and when he commands obedience. He’s not, like some think, the kind of God who wants to keep good things from us. Eve fell for that Satan’s ploy! He only wants our best in every situation and circumstance. The scriptures make ingratitude a sin and it commands us to be thankful. He commands us to be thankful because that’s the best thing for us.

David Jeremiah tells this story: A man who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown was counseled to practice the therapy of thanksgiving. He was told to make a list of all the people who had ever helped him in his life. Then he was to sit down and write a letter of thanks to a person who had especially blessed his life in the past. This man thought through his life and remembered a school teacher he’d had when he was growing up. She was a very old lady now. He wrote her a letter expressing his appreciation for all she’d meant to his life during his days of schooling. Several days went by and he got a letter back from her. She wrote, “Dear Willie, as I recall all the children I have taught over the years, you are the only one who ever took time to write and thank me for what I did as a teacher. You’ve made me so happy. I’ve read your letter through tears. I keep it by my bedside and read it every night. I shall cherish it until the day I die.” This man was so thrilled by the reply that he wrote more letters. At last he’d written 500 letters to the people he felt grateful to. You know what happened? The man got better.

Louis Smedes wrote when he woke up after a near death experience: I was flying outside of myself. High. Held in weightless lightness as if my earthly existence needed no ground to rest in but was hung in space with only love to keep it aloft. I was so grateful. It was then that I learned that gratitude is the best feeling I would ever feel in all of my life. It was the ultimate joy of living. It was better than winning the lottery.  Better and deeper than any other feeling. It is, perhaps, the genesis of all other really good feelings in the human repertoire. I am sure that nothing in life can ever match the feeling of being fully, totally, completely grateful.

“Give thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Colossians 1:12