In Luke 17, Jesus heals 10 lepers. All he does is tell them to go show themselves to the priests, and on their way, they are healed. One man, a Samaritan, notices he’s healed and returns to give thanks and praise to Jesus. But what about the other nine? They just go on their way, ungrateful for the miraculous gift they’ve received. It is the epitome of being self-centered. And that is how this story really impacts me. It stings a little to realize that sometimes we don’t even notice what God has done for us. Sometimes we’re more like the nine who didn’t return. We just go on our way… oblivious to what God has done… ungrateful… self-centered… complaining… negative. Our tendency each day is to focus on the things that go wrong that day. On the problems we’re having with our co-workers. On the challenges we’re having with our kids or our spouse. Isn’t it true that we find it so much easier to notice all the things that go wrong and aren’t right, than it is to notice all the beautiful things that are going well? Ouch! That’s where this story is convicting. We look at the glass half-empty rather than the glass half-full. 90% of the guys didn’t return to give thanks. They were still trapped as victims in their old way of looking at the world. Unfortunately, this percentage still holds true in our American culture today where 90% don’t even acknowledge what the Lord has done. I hope it’s not true among us in the church. All of us need to open our spiritual eyes a little wider to see what God has done and give thanks to Him!
On Thanksgiving Day, we think of giving thanks for our family… for our children… for health… for safety… for the food on the table… for the things we have… for our jobs… etc. Those are all good things – wonderful things – to be thankful for. But I want us to go deeper this Thanksgiving. The scripture says this in dozens of verses: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1) It says, give thanks to the Lord… give thanks for who he is… give thanks for his goodness… give thanks for his love… his mercy… his forgiveness… the hope he has placed in our hearts… to think of the greatness and goodness of God and give thanks to him! How can we do that if we’re not paying attention and noticing what he’s doing all around us?
I was sitting at a red light the other day and right alongside the car were some flowering plants. I don’t know what kind of flowers they were – I’m not good at that – but as I sat there a butterfly fluttered around as butterflies do and finally landed on the flower. It had this beautiful design with deep, rich colors. Right in the midst of traffic and cars stopped for the red light, I noticed what God had created. And I gave thanks to Him. It was a small thing. It lasted only a few seconds. But the important thing is that I noticed. The question for each of us to ponder is this: How many times have I rushed through life not noticing the miraculous signs of God? More often than I want to admit. I wonder how many times I’ve been one of the 9 lepers – healed… forgiven… provided for… taken care of… protected… saved… nourished… but not grateful enough to even notice and return to give thanks to my God for his goodness and mercy.
Notice the hand of God all around you and give thanks to Him for who he is. Acknowledge and praise him for what he has done and is doing in your life. Don’t get trapped inside an outlook on life that complains about what you don’t have or what’s going wrong in the world. A simple yet difficult way to do this is to be still… be quiet… sit in silent meditation. You can start with 2 minutes a day of just sitting in silence – not thinking of your list of things to do. Not rushing into your day. Lay there in bed for 2 minutes (or 3 or 5) and just think of the Lord and his goodness to you. Lift up your eyes to the Lord and see Him… notice Him… and give thanks to Him for who he is and all he has done for you.