Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and there’s a story that should make headlines at every dinner table.
The narrative is found in Luke 17:11-19. You may want to read it for yourself. It’s a beautiful story of God’s mercy, healing, and one man’s thankful heart.
As Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, He came into a village when He encountered ten lepers. Leprosy was a common disease in Jesus’ day. It was a flesh-eating disease that eventually gnawed through to the bone. There was no cure for it. People with leprosy were driven from the city and banned from family and religious life. They were outcasts and not allowed to have any physical contact with other people.
It surely must have been a lonely existence. And painful.
On this particular day, as Jesus came by, ten lepers cried out for mercy. Jesus did have mercy on them and instructed them to present themselves to the priest. They were completely healed.
After a lengthy period of time, imagine getting your freedom back. Imagine instant relief. Their hearts must have surely rejoiced.
Light overshadowed darkness. Despair turned to joy. Gladness burst through sorrow.
Hope is what each leper was given.
And it all happened because of One man. His name is Jehovah-Rapha – the God who heals. With just a word, they were brought back from the brink of death and given life. Abundant life.
No doubt, all of them were thankful for this new lease on life. But Scripture tells us that only one came back to thank Jesus. Really? Why?
Of course, we don’t know. Perhaps they were distracted. Maybe they simply forgot. Or possibly their excitement got the best of them.
Except one! He gave Jesus all the credit for his healing. He took the time to go back and thank Him.
The story ends here, but if I were to guess, I would say that he was probably the only one who lived with total contentment the rest of his life. He didn’t take his healing for granted. He lived with a thankful heart.
I have to tell you that this man’s heart-wrenching ordeal and his divine appointment with the Healer brought me face-to-face with my own depraved heart. I may not have had leprosy, but I was an outcast at one time. A homeless soul estranged from my true family.
I was immersed in sin, dirty, and lived like a pauper. Homeless! Wretched! Depraved!
But then Jesus found me. And in that horrible state, He picked me up, cleansed my heart, poured His life-giving water over me, sprinkled me with His blood, and healed my brokenness. He gave me life.
And He offered to me an eternal inheritance.
I’ve been awarded something that every person needs: HOPE!
It’s yours, too. But today’s visit back to the first century, reminds me that I need to go back and thank Jesus.
Because without Him, I would still be in that hopeless state.
The Bible tells us that we need to live with a thankful heart:
“Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God.” Psalm 50:14
“Always be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2
“Be thankful in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
So, here’s my encouragement for each of us. As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let’s take some time to enter into the presence of God, and thank Him for what He’s done for us. You may want to write out your thanksgiving (be specific) and recite it again and again. This will help you to live with a thankful heart.
Because we really do have every reason to be thankful.
And being thankful changes everything.
I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving.