Happy Cyber Monday, I mean, Black Friday, I mean Thanksgiving, whatever! This year so much attention has been given to these secondary days that Thanksgiving has almost been the redheaded step-holiday. Isn’t it ironic that on the one day a year that most people at least give gratitude a try, that before the Pumpkin pie was even digested Black Friday ad’s were spread all over the dining room table.
I know that I can fall into this trap so easily myself. However, I am praying that this year I will experience new levels of joy and gratitude in my life. This past week this verse kept echoing in my soul…
1 Thessalonians 5:18 …give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I know what it’s like when life is going great and I have also experienced what it feels like when you think your world is falling apart. The truth is, this passage is often easier said than done. Giving thanks in ‘ALL’ circumstances is at times next to impossible, this is where the story of the leper who returned to say “THANK YOU!!!” to Jesus has been a profound help to me. If you have a minute read Luke 17:11-19…
Here we see a man do 3 things that set him a apart from all his buddies who also experienced the very same healing but missed the more important aspect of encountering Jesus. These 3 things are given in verse 15:
1. He ‘saw’ that he was healed: this word is not simply referring to visual sight, but speaks of seeing with understanding and knowledge. This man was given perspective by Jesus, he ‘saw’ the work of God in His life.
In the midst of the busyness of this year I pray that we truly “see” God’s grace and blessings in our lives. I pray that we see Jesus for who he is!
2. He ‘came back’: very simply he returned to Jesus when everyone else went their own way. When 9 other men focused on themselves and the gift of a new lease on life, this 1 man looked to the Giver and looked to the healer and not just the healing.
Coming back to Jesus means that we do not hold on too tightly to this life, but instead return every blessing that we receive into one more praise.
3. He praised God: At one point this ex-leper stood at a distance (v.12) now he falls at Jesus’ feet in worship. His praises of adoration were as loud as his prayers for assistance. His celebration was as joyful as his cries were painful.
This man’s faith was demonstrated by his thanks, therefore Jesus exhorted him ‘your faith has made you well’ (v.19) How about us? If our words were evaluated to determine how thankful we are and this was then used as a diagnosis of our faith how would we do? Thankfulness is an indicator of our faith.
What we learn through this story is that even with his healing, this man’s faith was not based on his circumstances. His faith, like all true faith, was in Christ who despite any situation we may face is always Faithful and True.
May this be a year that we all see Jesus Christ for who he is, and return to him with praise and thanks for all that God has done! May our faith overflow in a gratitude that causes this world to see the glory of God!
EXERCISE>>> Would you take 5 minutes a day a few times a week this holiday season to do nothing but say thanks. Maybe write in your journal for 5 minutes what you are grateful for. Possibly send emails to people who have blessed you. With you kids have them write lists, other than their wish lists, of things they are thankful for.