How are you celebrating this thanksgiving?
Perhaps with family or friends, your children or your church. Maybe you’ll even spend it in the peace & quiet of your own home. Whatever it may be, the goal is probably to be full of good food & fired up with football.
One of my favorite thanksgiving traditions is when my family spends the first half of the meal naming one thing we are thankful for. It’s one of the only days of the year where we get to really dive deep into this practice & it’s so special.
But honestly, the more I think about this idea, the more I realize how disheartening it is that we as a society only have one day a year dedicated to thanksgiving.
Sure, we often feel the essence of gratitude. But how often is it that we express it out loud to our Father & those around us?
To inspire you and focus your eyes on God during this season, I ask that you open your bibles to Luke 17:11-19.
This passage of scripture takes place as Jesus was traveling between Galilee and Samaria. While he enters the village, a group of 10 lepers called out to him from a distance. These lepers had to stand away, as it was custom for lepers to be cast off from society in order to stop them from infecting someone else. The voices of the 10 all joined together, Jew & Samaritan alike, to call out in a loud voice when Jesus walked by asking for him to have pity on them.
Jesus responds with a challenging command, “When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14 NIV).
During that time, if a leper’s leprosy went into remission, they had to be checked by a priest & proclaimed clean before they could re-enter society. Jesus asks these 10 to step out in faith first, by going to meet the priest, knowing if they did, they would receive healing along the way.
And they did indeed receive healing, all 10 of them. But only one comes back to sit at the feet of Jesus. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.” (Luke 17:15-16 NIV).
Samaritans were hated by Jews and were deemed “half-breeds” during the time that Jesus walked on earth. However, the Samaritan leper was the only one to come back and show thanksgiving to Jesus.
“Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’” (Luke 17:17-19 NIV)
Jesus notices the lack of gratitude in the others and because this specific leper thanked Him, he received an even bigger blessing. A blessing that showed the character of the Lord and gave him a new life. You see, this Samaritan got to hear from Jesus that it was not simply a miracle that made Him well but the hand of God blessing him for his obedience.
While the other 9 lepers had healed bodies, this one leper walked away with a healed heart as well.
This is the power of thanksgiving. It honors the Lord and it opens us up to see his true character at work. The Lord doesn’t just want the blessings he gives us to stop there. He wants us to use those blessings to glorify him through thanksgiving & praise.
So, as the thanksgiving holiday approaches and we are tempted to focus on food, family, football, & Friday’s shopping mayhem, let us refocus our eyes on the reason we can be thankful in any circumstance. Let us refocus our eyes on how we can give thanks every day. Let us refocus our eyes on the greatest blessing of all, our new lives in Christ.
To sum it up in one sentence:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
Have a wonderful thanksgiving holiday.