Remember the story in Luke 17 about Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers? Suffering with a skin disease that kept them outside the city, isolated from others, and left to fend for themselves, they spot Jesus coming down the road. They must have heard about him and his miracle works because they start shouting out to him to have mercy on them, to heal them of their illness. Looking at them intently, Jesus tells them to go to the priests and show themselves, kind of like getting a pass that would allow them back into the city again. As they walked toward where the priests lived, the ten lepers are all healed. Did you notice that they had to take part in this? They had to start walking toward the priests believing that by the time they got there something would have changed? And it did!
When the healing happens, one of the lepers, who also was a Samaritan, an outsider, realizes a miracle has happened. He can hardly believe he is clean and whole again. He turns around and runs back to Jesus with just one thing to say over and over again…”thank you, thank you, thank you.” Though Jesus is touched by the man’s gratitude, he puzzles over the fact that ten were healed, but only one returned to thank God.
As we approach Thanksgiving, that season when we reflect on all that we are grateful for, let’s strive to be counted among the 10%, those who remember to say thanks because thanks is more than a word! It’s an attitude, a condition under which even more possibility happens. In the case of the leper, Jesus suggests to him as he sends the man on his way, that his faith has made him well. To me, that implies that faith must walk hand in hand with gratitude. That recognizing God’s part in the things we receive, helps to manifest even more of those things.
What about the others who were also healed, but didn’t say thanks? Perhaps we can see ourselves in them a bit as well. How often do we think we’ve caused good things to happen on our own? How often do we assume we’re entitled to God’s gifts and blessings?
Gratitude then is about how we receive the goodness and the grace God has provided. One writer said it like this, “Gratitude is from the same root word as grace–the boundless mercy of God. Thanksgiving is from the same root word as think, so to think is to thank.”
When you think about it, we have abundance beyond measure…the oxygen of love and the abundant living waters for grace to make it all worthwhile. May you share the blessings of family and friends covered by the banner of gratitude. We are among all people, abundantly blessed.
Happy Thanksgiving from Costa Rica. I’m so blessed to have each of you in my life!