Thankful People See Blessings Amidst Burdens
- 2005 24 Nov
Jesus had passed through Galilee into Samaria, making His way toward Jerusalem and the Cross (Luke 17). Coming to a small village, He encountered a group of lepers—nine Jews and a Samaritan—who, keeping their distance, tried to call Him. Their cry must have been pitiful, for leprosy damages the vocal chords and makes clear speech impossible.
"Go, show yourselves to the priests," Jesus said. He didn't heal them on the spot but gave them an assignment to go to the priests in Jerusalem who were designated as the only ones who could pronounce them cured. The ten started off by faith. As they walked along, they noticed their skin was clearing up. They were being healed. That's when the Samaritan stopped and said, "I'm going back to thank Him."
The Thanksgiving Leper
We don't know why this leper had a different attitude than the others. This leper had undoubtedly learned the secret of recognizing that every good and perfect gift comes from above. It's a life-attitude: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Thankful people see blessings amidst burdens. They realize the sun-indifferent to clouds-keeps shining and sooner or later breaks through. They see life through the eyeglasses of God's promises, which magnify blessings and keep trials in perspective. They are conscientious about sending thank you notes, returning favors to friends, saying grace before meals, and singing praises at church.
The Thanksgiving Lord
Have you noticed there were two thankful people in this story? The leper and his Lord. Jesus was thankful for thankfulness. Being the God-Man, He both receives and renders thanksgiving. One of His prayers, recorded in Matthew 11:25-26, begins: "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…."
When feeding the multitudes, He gave thanks for the bread and fish. Before instituting the Last Supper in the Upper Room, He paused to give thanks. At the tomb of Lazarus, He prayed, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me" (John 11:41). Thankfulness is simply an element of Christlikeness. When we're thankful, we're modeling the Master.
The Thanksgiving Lecture
But the Lord's response to this leper is two-fold. While appreciating the thanksgiving of the one man, He noted the ingratitude of the nine. "Were there not ten cleansed?" He asked. "But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" (Luke 17:17-18).
I strongly suspect that the numbers are still about the same. One in ten is truly grateful. We must consciously watch ourselves that we don't fall into the 90 percent who never pause to regularly say, "Thank you," to our God. Thanksgiving, after all, is a command, and Jesus always notes disobedience.
Thanksgiving, remember, is therapeutic. It lifts the soul. If you want to enroll in Thanksgiving University where the Master Teacher tutors us in Gratitude 101, begin intentionally thanking God and others for the blessings surrounding you.
Some Christians keep a thanksgiving list in their notebooks. Others use a little spot on their appointment logs to jot down an item every day for which they're thankful. Each day hymnist Frances Havergal noted on a calendar something-often a little thing-for which she thanked God.
Others don't use pen and paper, but they deliberately begin their prayer time every morning with praise and thanksgiving.
When did you last thank God for modern medicine, instant communication, controlled climates, accessible food and indoor plumbing? Have you thanked Him for the person who sits near you in church? Have you thanked Him for specific promises in the Bible, such as Romans 8:28 and Proverbs 3:5-6? When did you last praise Him for the sun, moon, and stars?
You might even want to compose or choose a poem or hymn of thanksgiving to God and offer it as your own prayer.
This article was excerpted from Turning Points, Dr. David Jeremiah's devotional magazine. Call Turning Point at 1-800-947-1993 for your complimentary copy of Turning Points.