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Living faith

In everything, give thanks

Created date

October 23rd, 2012

The Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony had much to complain about that first year in the new world a wicked-cold winter, various perils, disease and starvation that killed roughly half of the Mayflower s original 102 passengers. Yet they sat down with 90 friends from the Wampanoag tribe to give thanks, as Edward Winslow prayed, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. Gratitude is a prized virtue in all major religions. Many ethical writers assert that people are morally obligated to express gratitude in response to received benefits. The secret of a living faith, however, is imitating the settlers in following the Apostle Paul s admonition: in everything give thanks. The Pilgrims believed that gratitude was the best antidote for their struggles and their grief. It is also a remedy for the seven deadly sins. If we are thankful for whatever we have, content in any circumstance (even a painful one), and acknowledge that God is good and that he and others contribute to our well-being, we leave little room for pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, or wrath.

Attitude of gratitude

Grateful people those who appreciate and relish every aspect of their lives report greater satisfaction with life, higher energy levels, and richer interpersonal relationships. An attitude of gratitude is also associated with stronger cardiovascular and immune systems, and longer life spans. The Pilgrims observed a day of Thanksgiving and praise every Thursday. What a difference we ll see in our lives if we make Thanksgiving part of our daily and weekly routines. Author James Bryan Smith suggests keeping an ongoing list of blessings, challenging us to come up with 100 per week. This exercise will help us shift our focus away from the few things that are wrong to the many things that are beautiful and wonderful, Smith promises. I quickly listed over 130 people, things, and experiences, both positive and negative, that God and others have provided for my benefit. I recited them recently during a bad morning commute and could feel my blood pressure falling and my spirits lifting. Send your list to me at 703 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228, or email it to, and I ll share the common themes in a future column.