Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, traditionally a day we set aside to give thanks for all we’ve received throughout the year although it has morphed into the first official day of Christmas with little thought given to gratitude or God. Reflection has given way to football and strategic planning on which stores to hit first on Black Friday.
In the Gospel of Luke there’s a story about ten lepers who came to Jesus hoping to be healed. They shouted to him from a distance because according to Jewish law they were unclean. In testing their faith Jesus instructed them to present themselves to the priest, the only person who could declare them clean. While on the way to the priest they were all miraculously healed and their skin restored. Only one of the ten, a foreigner, came back to thank Jesus for his miraculous healing, bowing at His feet. Jesus asked him ” didn’t I heal ten, and yet only you have returned to thank me.”
We live in an entitlement society, that is automatically feeling we are entitled to certain things. This may be true of those of us in the Church as well. False teaching leads us to believe God is up there just handing out free stuff like a hired department store Santa Claus. We sit on His lap, tell Him what we want and find it under the tree on Christmas, just like we’re supposed to. There is a difference in receiving by faith and expecting by entitlement.
Every good gift comes from the Father but anything given us by God is not given based on our own merit. In fact we don’t deserve any good thing from God. It is only through His grace and mercy that He delights in gifting us. In a spirit of arrogance I feel we’ve forgotten how to pray fervently to God for what we are seeking. We have forgotten how to see the miracles in the small things. We have skipped Thanksgiving in anticipation of what will be waiting for us under the tree.
It took a really rough year for me to finally learn how to grateful for the simple things like the beauty of an overcast day or getting out of bed to start each new day or treasured friendships. I’m grateful for the free time my health condition has afforded me to serve more in church. I’m thankful that I can detect God’s involvement in directing my steps. Im grateful for a church where for once I feel like I belong.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, Message Translation, reads ”Be cheerful, no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Jesus to live.
God, may we consider your goodness and faithfulness daily and extend to You our gratitude in every situation and not just one day per year.