St. Ignatius believed ingratitude to be “the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins.” I'm inclined to agree. How about you?
Now that Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, all of us are preparing to resume "life as normal." However, the question we must ask ourselves is, "what is our normal?" Are we defined by a ever-present sense of gratitude? Or do we save that for the 3rd Thursday in November?
In Luke 17, we read the incredible story about Christ's miraculous healing of 10 lepers. Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body. In Biblical times, being a leper meant living a life of seclusion and loneliness, completely removed from society. No friends and family, no hugs of comfort, no essence of human love. You were rejected and feared. So when Jesus heard the lepers' cries for pity and he turned and addressed them, their lonely hearts were no doubt rekindled with a sense of thrill they hadn't felt since their disease reared its ugly head.
However, after the lepers experienced the healing power of Christ, how many returned to give thanks for their new life of acceptance, love, and "normal" living? One. ONE. A Samaritan, no less! (Note: The Samaritans happened to be among the most despised people groups in Israel.)
One out of ten is a terrible average. But sadly, that average is probably more true-to-life in our own lives than we care to admit. God has given all of us as Christians SO much. Regardless of our financial prowess or our societal position, we've been given the greatest gift one could ever receive: forgiveness and eternal life. What could be better than that!? Absolutely nothing. Everything else in life is going to pass away and deteriorate, fading away like withering grass and a distant dream.
But despite the fact that we are given so much on a daily basis (Lamentations 3 says His mercies are new every morning!), we so often forget to thank our Gracious Provider for His constant care and overwhelming support. He promises to be there for us through thick and thin (Matthew 28:20) and He proves that promise time and time again throughout our lives. Too often than I care to admit, I allow my sense of gratitude to be derailed and overpowered by my circumstances and failures. I get impatient with where I'm at in life and lose track of the fact that God wants me to trust Him and be thankful when I'm at my weakest and poorest. Not easy to do, but it speaks volumes to the world around us if we're able to do so!
“God is in control, and therefore in EVERYTHING I can give thanks - not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it.” –Kay Arthur
So let us all ask ourselves: "Which leper am I?"
When reminded of how much we've been given, will we be quick to forget the Great Giver (the ungrateful 9) or will we pause and give thanks to God for even the "smallest" of blessings we receive (the grateful 1)? Our own version of leprosy (our sin) threatens to steal our joy each and every day. But the Darling of Heaven has healed us from our leprosy through His death on the cross, thus giving us every reason to be the most grateful people on earth.
In closing, please take a moment to listen to this wonderful (and delightfully vintage) rendition of Andrea Crouch's "My Tribute" and ponder all the things you have to be thankful for at this moment.
Remember: Thanksgiving is more than a holiday. It's a lifestyle.
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" (Psalm 107:1)
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