There are so many things we can easily take for granted in life. Most of us wake up in a warm, cozy bed with breakfast readily available. We take hot showers and have access to clean drinking water. We drive reliable vehicles that get us to and from our places of employment. For most of us, these accommodations are part of our everyday routines that seem ordinary and expected; yet there are millions of people all over the world who would consider them as luxuries. Unfortunately, it’s often not until we lose what we’re used to having that we realize the worth of what we had.
My challenge for you today is to live a life of gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 states, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Notice it doesn’t say in some things, or with big and expensive things; no, it says in everything. Make it a habit to thank God for ALL the good things He brings into your life, including people! A loving family and good companions are to be treasured. They are gifts from a gracious Father that add tremendous value and fulfillment to our lives.
There are many other intangible blessings we should be thankful for. Think about how quickly your quality of life would spiral downward if things like your health, spiritual well being, and/or sound mind were lacking? Without any of those, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the tangible blessings in their fullest!
Lessons From a Leper
There is a story in the bible that powerfully illustrates: 1. How these combined factors influence our quality of life, and 2. How gratefulness pleases God.
Jesus was right outside a village and on His way to Jerusalem when a group of ten lepers approached Him and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us! (Luke 17:13)” Now, it’s important to remember that lepers were considered to be disfavored by God and banished from society. They were to remain on the outside of camp, keep the lower part of their faces covered, and shamefully cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” These were once ordinary men and women who lived ordinary lives before suddenly losing everything they had and knew. And now, because of their incurable skin disease, they no longer had access to the same things or people. They would also have to deal with the emotional and psychological anguish of losing their identity in society, as well as their physical appearance. Lepers were affected on every level. So, when they cried out for Jesus to have pity on them, it was a desperate plea for His mercy and compassion. Whatever He was willing to give, they were willing to receive!
Jesus didn’t hesitate to extend His compassion when He instructed them to, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” By saying this, Jesus was in essence telling them to get their healing confirmed, since the priests were the only people who could make that determination. The lepers believed Jesus and the text goes on to say “as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14) Jesus performed a miracle! They were now healed from an incurable, detestable disease! He reversed the curse that leprosy had brought into their lives! You would think they would be jumping for joy and tripping over each other just to run and give Jesus a big hug, right? Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
Out of ten lepers miraculously healed that day, only one of them came back, “praising God in a loud voice” as he “threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.” (Luke 17:15-16) Jesus then inquired about the others and questioned why they didn’t return to give praise to God for their healing. It was clear that this angered him. But to the thankful leper, a further blessing was bestowed as Jesus said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (17:19)
At first glance, this might seem like a confusing statement. After all, all ten lepers demonstrated faith in action by walking towards the priests, right? And all ten lepers were healed. But since the thankful leper extended his faith further by giving God the glory and praise, Jesus extended his healing further in every area of his life; not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, as well. He was making him whole.
Your world doesn’t have to be perfect for you to find something to be thankful for. There is always, always something. But if you truly are lacking in a certain area, I want to encourage you to hold on to your faith and take God at His word. Remember that a grateful heart touches the heart of God on a deeper level, which produces restoration on a deeper level. Faith is good. Faith with action is great. But faith mixed with action and praise is unbeatable!