11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19, NIV).
As we enter into this season of Thanksgiving, it is easy to remember to be thankful. On social media, we see the 30-days of thankfulness. There are turkeys and cornucopias galore. There are school plays reenacting the first Thanksgiving. There definitely isn’t a shortage of reminders.
But, what about the other 340 some days of the year? Are we giving thanks then? In this short story in the book of Luke, it takes only nine short verses to teach us a valuable lesson in thankfulness. Here were 10 men who had leprosy. 10 men who were outcasts—in biblical times leprosy resulted in an immediate outcast status. 10 men begging for healing, and 10 men who received what they so desperately wanted.
“And as they went, they were cleansed.”
But that’s where the similarities ended. While 10 were healed only one came back to give thanks. And, it wasn’t a simple thank you. The story tells us that he was praising God loudly and that he threw himself at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him for the gift of being healed. 10 were healed. Only one came back. After the man profusely thanked Jesus, Jesus responded by saying his faith had made him well. His gratitude was an out pouring of his faith and because of that, he was healed.
When things go well, it feels easy to say thank you. And yet at the same time, in the busyness of life, when things go well, it can be easy to forget.
And when she got home, her husband had cleaned the kitchen…but then she got distracted by the laundry.
And when the test results came back, the tumor was benign…but then she got caught up with making sure that nothing interfered with her health.
And as she asked her children to clear their dishes from the table, they listened without protest…but then she get overwhelmed by the toys on the floor.
How about when it isn’t so easy to be thankful?
And as she got the kids to bed after multiple arguments, she wondered if she would ever get this mothering thing right.
And when she received the phone call from the doctor, she realized nothing would ever be the same.
And when her husband said he no longer loved her, she crumbled in pain.
Whether in easy circumstances or in hard, thankfulness needs to be our reaction. We need to let our faith produce a heart that instinctively responds with gratitude. When it is, we have the sweet promise of God’s peace, and not just any peace, a peace beyond words.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Did you catch that? When we come to God “with thanksgiving,” His peace will “guard your hearts and your minds.” It’s not just a feel-good kind of peace. It is a peace that acts as a fortress and a stronghold around your heart and your mind. That’s some pretty solid peace. And it’s ours if we come before God “with thanksgiving.”
So, I encourage you, when the last of the turkey has been eaten and 340 some days face you before the season returns, find ways to be thankful. When it’s easy and when it’s not. And when you do, bask in the sweet, deep peace that God promises to give.