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We value the people who help us cope with life through various types of therapy. Physical therapy can make the difference between our being housebound or active. Sometimes, our mind gets confused and we need a trained professional to help us gain perspective and think correctly.

During this Thanksgiving season, I am thinking about another kind of therapy that does not require a professional to help us. It needs our personal determination. Giving thanks – I like to call it “gratefulness” – is a form of therapy.

Martin Rinckart was a minister and songwriter during the 1600’s. “Now Thank We All Our God” is believed to have been written during or soon after the Thirty Years’ War. He was apparently one of the last surviving ministers in the city of Eilenburg, and he used his few personal resources to care for refugees and perform funerals. These words were sung as he gathered his family to give thanks for the scraps of food in their meager home:

“Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;

Who, from our mothers’ arms, has blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”

Perhaps we could call this “music therapy.” It is often during the most hurtful experiences of life that we recall a song whose words and memories of earlier days bring calm to our spirit and give us courage and joy. David of Old Testament times wrote many songs – we know them as the Psalms – that could be called “thanksgiving therapy.” Consider Psalm 23, which begins, “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.” The word picture is amazing.

As I anticipate gathering with family in the comfort of home to enjoy the Thanksgiving celebration, I cannot identify with the many homeless who are lonely, hungry, confused and in need of encouragement therapy. I am so grateful for the people who try to meet some of those needs.

With thoughts of Rinckart’s words sung during challenging circumstances, and the admonition from the Bible, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will,” I would like to be able to sing, “Now thank we all our God, who has blessed us with countless gifts of love today.”

Rinckart’s song concludes:

“All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,

The Son, and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven,

The one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore;

For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”

I do not think it is possible to be grateful and grumble at the same time. Perhaps the best therapy is to develop and maintain the habit of looking for something for which to be grateful every hour of the day. Thanksgiving therapy costs us nothing but the discipline to do it.

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