The healing power of Thanksgiving

Published 12:38 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

By Roger Campbell


“Do you still look out your study window and give thanks?” asked my grandson, his question being drawn from memories of childhood.  Allow me to explain.

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During one of the most difficult periods of my life, I started this early appointment to give thanks because of the following wise words from A.W. Tozer, the well known writer of Christian classics:  “Now as a cure for the sour faultfinding attitude, I recommend the cultivation of the habit of thankfulness.  The heart that is constantly overflowing with gratitude will be safe from attacks of resentfulness and gloom,” adding: “thanksgiving has great curative powers.”

Tozer’s claim of the healing power of thanksgiving came to my attention when I was struggling with health issues so I decided to test it, giving birth to my continuing early morning treks to my study window to start my day with an attitude of gratitude.

When grandchildren came to stay overnight, they knew where they could find me at first light and soon after I arrived at my praising place, the soft sound of slippers on tiny feet would alert me to the arrival of one or more of them heading into my study where they stood beside me as I gave thanks for my blessings.

A minister called early one morning to ask how to survive a difficult period in his life.  “Try giving thanks,” I advised.   And my prescription for peace was born out of experience.

When members of a wagon train headed west on the Oregon Trail they were confident and optimistic.  Then reality arrived.  Water became hard to find; wagons broke down; and with these difficulties came a change in mood of the entire company of travelers:  they became edgy, angry and discouraged.  Tempers flared as conflicts over their obstacles divided former friends.  The trip seemed longer and more discouraging every day, so in order to keep from self-destructing, this gloomy group decided to call a meeting to air their complaints and try to resolve their conflicts.

When the meeting was about to begin, someone made a suggestion that lifted the clouds covering this company of complainers and enabled them to recapture their dreams.  “Before we do anything else,” he said, “I think we should thank God that we have come this far with no loss of life and strength enough to finish our journey.”

After giving thanks for things they had been taking for granted, an opportunity for voicing complaints was given but it was greeted with silence.  Thanksgiving had turned their minds from problems to praise and sent them on their way with their vision renewed and the confidence to achieve it.

Thanksgiving is a powerful, healing, life changing attitude mentioned 140 times in the Bible.  “It is good to give thanks to the LORD,” said the Psalmist (Psalm 92:1).

Abraham Lincoln saw thankfulness as a means of binding up the nation’s wounds following the Civil War and his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 reveals that desire.  His call to remember our blessings is needed today in angry America.

When I started giving thanks every morning I thought I wouldn’t live much longer, but these many years later I’m writing this column about the healing power of thanksgiving.

And you’re reading it.

     Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.  A new book containing over one hundred of his best columns, “Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree,” is now available at your local or online bookseller.