Stew on This: Are You Ready to Embrace 3 Reasons to be Thankful this Thanksgiving?
Written By: Glenn C. Stewart
Researchers have found some things that are consistent for those who have a happy life. They have spirituality, family, good marriages, and friendships. Interestingly, these reasons are all relational in nature. They’ve discovered that another key ingredient to a happy life is gratitude. People who make a daily or frequent practice of being thankful were “not only more joyful; they were healthier, less stressed, more optimistic, and more likely to help others.”
This is all interesting because the Bible consistently exhorts and encourages us to be grateful and gives us many examples of people who were thankful even in the toughest of times.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, instructs, “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch what is says? It is God’s will for us to be thankful no matter what. Look at the following Thanksgiving passage of Scripture.
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner’ And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well,” (Luke 17:11-19, ESV).
3 Reasons Followers of Jesus Christ can be Thankful:
We have been healed spiritually –
To appreciate this, we need to get some background from the Scripture passage above, especially concerning the disease of leprosy. This severe type of leprosy referenced in the text is caused by a bacteria. It attacks the nerves and the skin. It anesthetizes the body and the limbs so that feeling is lost. What makes a painless disease so horrible? It’s numbing quality is precisely the reason it is so horrible. For thousands of years people thought this disease caused the ulcers on hands, feet, and faces which eventually led to rotting flesh and loss of limbs. Dr. Paul Brand who spent his life working with leprosy patients (first in India and then here in the U.S.) and pioneered reconstructive surgery techniques to deal with the maiming, through his research discovered that in 99 percent of the cases leprosy only numbs the extremities. The destruction follows solely because the warning system of pain is gone. Basically people destroy their own limbs. Dr. Brand wrote and lectured extensively on the value of pain, because without it we have no warning signs and end up destroying ourselves.
Physical leprosy involves lesions or swollen areas on the skin. It also attacks the nerves and the person can’t feel pain. It results in a crippling of the limbs and vulnerability to injury. In biblical times, a person with leprosy was considered unclean and ostracized from society. Due to association with “uncleanness,” leprosy became a metaphor for sin. Just as leprosy physically numbs a person, and desensitizes them to danger and the pain of injury, sin desensitizes us to God and numbs us to our need of him. Leprosy of the soul is a life that is cold to God and a heart that has no room for Him. When we let Jesus restore us and become the Savior and Leader of our lives, He makes us clean. For that we should be always grateful.
We can be thankful that God is approachable –
One of the great realities and benefits of Christianity is that God is personal. He is not aloof or detached. He is not unfeeling and uncaring. He is close, compassionate, interested, and involved. Lepers stood at a distance. They couldn’t come close. They weren’t allowed to touch anyone or else that person would become unclean. They were separated from everyone because of their illness. It was social quarantine and caused them great psychological pain. But this one “ex-leper” came close to Jesus. He fell in gratitude. He got close and wasn’t rejected, but accepted. Anyone can come close to God through Jesus Christ. We can come boldly before God and find whatever help we need, whenever we need it. Anytime, anyplace, and about anything we can come to God, and Jesus has made it all possible. That is reason for all of us to be thankful.
We can be thankful because Jesus has changed us –
In Luke 17:19, Jesus tells the cleansed leper to, “rise and go.” And there is no doubt that this man would never be the same again. We don’t know anything more about the rest of his life. But I think we can safely assume that when he went back to his home everything was different. Remember he had to be away from his home, away from his work, away from people. Those were sad days. But when he went back he could have contact, he could have friends, he could live with family. Things would never be the same.
Even if circumstances are adverse, we need to go back to the foundational truths of why we are to give thanks. We are to be thankful that because of Jesus we will never be the same. He has given us so much. Most of all He has given us Himself.