A psychological experiment was conducted in Standford in 1972 where a professor took hundreds of children between 4 and 5 years old and brought each child into a private room, sat them down in a chair, and placed a marshmallow on the table in front of them.
At this point, the researcher offered each child a deal. The researcher told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, then they would not get a second marshmallow. So the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later. The researcher left the room for 15 minutes. As you can imagine, the footage of the children waiting alone in the room was rather entertaining. Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time.
When all of these children were followed through life, it was found that those who were able to delay gratification were more successful in other areas. They were more stable financially, less likely to be overweight, had lower levels of substance abuse, better responses to stress, and better social skills. At a deep level, the ability to resist temptation not only saves us from harm, it can actually pay off.
Thanksgiving is a natural time to reassess our lives; to take stock of our blessings and our challenges. In the midst of that assessment there is often a nice, big, fat marshmallow. That marshmallow contains the temptation to think: “Everything good in my life I have earned… Everything good in my life I deserve… I’m in control of all this… (and maybe even) Why won’t God make my challenges go away?” DON’T EAT THE MARSHMALLOW!! We didn’t create the earth. We didn’t decide when we were born. We can’t control tomorrow’s weather and so on. Everything given is from God who loves us and has rescued us in Jesus. He also promises to stay present with us through the Holy Spirit. Every blessing is a pure result of God’s grace. Every challenge is subject to the mercy and power of Jesus who heals and restores. This October we need to give thanks where thanks is truly due. We also need to resist the temptation of believing our achievements are based on our efforts alone.
Worship is thanksgiving. Offerings are thanksgiving. Service is thanksgiving. Holy living is thanksgiving. Our lives will embody thanksgiving when we realize just how much depends upon God’s grace.
This fall, living a thankful lifestyle may mean taking part in our fall “Emotionally-Healthy Spirituality” series on Sundays and in a small group, worshipping with consistent offerings even if you are unable to make it to a Sunday service, taking 10 minutes of quiet time a day to pray and study Scripture, and setting one healthy goal for yourself to achieve before Christmas.
This year we will have one service on Thanksgiving Sunday at 10:30 a.m. I hope you are able to join us.
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