EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day throughout November, we'll bring you one devotional from our archives about Thanksgiving, giving thanks, gratitude, or giving of ourselves. Check back every morning as you thank the Lord for your many blessings!
“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?’” Luke 17:17 (NIV)
I’m terrible at Thanksgiving crafts, but I see those gratitude jars on Pinterest and think they’re a fantastic idea. I imagine that I pull a Mason jar from the cabinet and tie a burlap ribbon around it. Then I’ll grab a slip of patterned paper to try my hand at calligraphy, but admittedly my “G” looks a little crazy.
I hang in there. It’s not about the jar, right? It’s about the little slips of paper I’ll put in there every day. I’ll be like a gratitude ninja and capture sweet moments for which I’m thankful. Of course, I’ll jot them down immediately and then — maybe later that year, say Christmas — we’ll pull them out and read them as a family.
Everyone will smile at the memories ...
Then reality kicks in. It’s more likely my gratitude jar will have three or four slips of paper, and the jar will be shoved on a shelf somewhere, forgotten. It’s a great idea, but somehow a pretty jar doesn’t do the heart work for me.
In Luke 17:11, ten lepers dare to approach Jesus. They are unclean. They are contagious, at least in close quarters. Jesus sends them to the priest, and on the way their disease is healed. No more disfigurement. No more pain. They can return to their jobs and families. Imagine their joy as they danced into the temple, showing the priest their restored fingers and skin as new as a babe.
One, a Samaritan (foreigners whom Jews considered total outcasts), returns to thank Jesus.
There is no doubt the other nine are just as elated, but only one is grateful enough to return and thank Jesus. Nine people are healed on the exterior, but there’s some inner work that still needs to be done.
Sometimes our greatest heart work takes place when we acknowledge where we are the least thankful.
Maybe this Thanksgiving your house will be full. There’ll be dirty dishes. Lots of them. Maybe your dad will tell that same old joke — the corny one that isn’t that funny, but he can’t help but tell it. It’s easy to get distracted by the noise or the mess, but I can’t help but wonder, What if we stepped into our ingratitude with honesty?
Dear Lord, today I saw the mess and heard the noise but failed to be grateful for the people around the table. Let me pause for a moment and point out all the reasons I’m thankful.
Perhaps you’ve been busy at work. I know I have.
Oh Lord, I gripe about my workload, when just a year ago I was praying for a job. Have I stopped to thank You for provision?
I just celebrated another birthday. When I look in the mirror, I see those years adding up.
Father, I see wrinkles and years gaining, but I failed to thank You for another day. I’d like to change that.
When we step honestly into areas of ingratitude, it has the power to change us. We run back to Jesus, aware of the immense gifts we’ve been given.
Maybe one day I’ll make that pretty jar with a burlap ribbon, but for now I’m asking the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to see where ingratitude might be taking root.
This Thanksgiving, let’s listen to our words. Let’s look for the miracles and write them on our hearts.
Let’s run to Jesus and tell Him … thank You.
Father, sometimes I take my miracles for granted, or I think You already know that I’m grateful. For whatever reason, I haven’t expressed that, and I want to do it today. I’m falling to my knees to say how grateful I am. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV)
Romans 14:6a, “Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.” (NIV)
1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (NIV)
Suzie Eller’s new book, Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads, offers a chapter entitled “Living a Life of Thank You.”
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
We are often hyper-aware of others’ ingratitude but can be blind to our own.
Ask a trusted, godly friend if they’ll share one way that you express gratitude well and one way you can get better. Take those words and allow the Holy Spirit to begin His work.
© 2016 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.