We are all grateful when all is going well for us, but can we say the same on our disastrous days?
Since this is the beginning of the week where we celebrate THANKSGIVING, I wanted to talk about thankfulness. To do this I want to talk about things in life that are not good together…
Long-tailed cats and rocking chairs? Bad combination.
Bull in a china shop? Not a good idea.
Blessings and Bitterness? That mixture often does not go over well with God.
Combine Heavenly kindness with Earthly ingratitude, and you can expect a sour concoction. Gratitude does NOT come naturally, but self pity does.
“Grumbles and Mumbles”...Nobobdy ever has to remind us to utter those. But all to often we need to be reminded to say “Thank you!”
Why is that? The grumbles often don’t mix well with the kindness we have been shown, yet that is our natural response to life.
Maybe we need a spoon full of gratitude it just might do us more good than that infamous “spoon full of sugar”!
In the book of Genesis, we read of a man, who to me epitomizes the concept of a gracious life.
His life was filled with good reasons to grumble, yet he rarely ever did. His faith was his strength. If ever there was a man who would have been justified in having a bitter attitude, it was Joseph. Yet his story is filled with examples of his gratitude. In fact he made two very grand gestures of gratitude to the Lord when he names his two sons. Menasseh means, ” For God has made me forget all my toil and all my fathers house.” His other son was named Ephraim. His name means, ” For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Do you think that God noticed his gesture of gratitude? I do.
There is a second story in the bible that I would like to paraphrase today. It is the story of the 10 Lepers that the Savior healed. He blessed all 10 with renewed health. He told all 10 to go find the priest so that they could be declared CLEAN.
All 10 Lepers obeyed and went into town so that the Priest could utter the words that would allow them to rejoin their families, and rejoin life in town.
(You can find this story and read it in detail in Luke 17:11-13)
But most of you will be familiar with the ending. Only 1 out of the 10 returned to thank the Savior.
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus shouting, ” Praise God!” The irony of this story is that the grateful Leper was a Samaritan. The other nine were Jews.
It is easy for us to speculate.
Some were now WAY to busy to be grateful. They probably planned to thank Jesus, after they had found their families, doctors, dogs, parakeets, and neighbors…
Some may have been too cautious to be thankful. They guarded against joy, kept their hopes down- after all, whats too good to be true usually is, Right!
Others may have been too self-centered to be thankful. The sick life was so much simpler. Now that they were healed they would be expected to go find a job, play a role in society, and FUNCTION.
Others may have been to arrogant: We were never that sick. Given time, we could have recovered. With proper nutrition and rest we could have accomplished this on our own.
Too busy, too cautious, too self-centered, too arrogant… too close to home!
I don’t know about you, but I could relate to the 9. How many times in life have you been blessed with a kind gesture, and you were too busy, cautious, or arrogant to express gratitude?
For me, way to many to even count.
Why is it that in life you can witness two people in identical situations, and one is grumbling, the other is expressing gratitude?
I am starting to understand that the difference is in our perspective.
If you allow your mind to see each day as something that must be endured, you will most likely be grumbling your way thru it.
On the other hand, if you view life as a gift, you will have a smile on your face and a prayer in your heart. You will greet your fellow-men with an attitude of gratitude.
If you feel that life owes you something, brace yourself for a life filled with sour-hours.
You will NEVER get reimbursed.
The sky will never be blue enough;
the stake won’t be cooked enough;
the universe won’t ever be good enough to deserve an exceptional human being like you.
You will snap and snarl your way to an early grave.
Thankful people focus less on the things they lack and more on the blessings they have.
And why shouldn’t we be grateful?
Jesus cured our leprosy.
Sin had cankered our soul and numbed our senses. Yet Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we could walk away healed.
So what about the days in our lives when disaster strikes… because it eventually will?
What about the nights we can’t sleep and the days we cannot rest?
What if the economy crashes?
What if you lose a parent, or a child?
Grateful then? Jesus was!
The night that he was being betrayed, he broke bread and offered thanks. (1 Cor 11:23-24).
It is not very often that you will ever find the two words, “betrayed”, and “thanks” in the same sentence, much less in the same heart.
Judas and Peter both sat at the table beside Jesus, he knew that one would soon betray him, and the other would deny him.
Yet he broke the bread and gave thanks!
In the midst of the darkest night, he still expressed gratitude.
That example has carried me through my own darkest nights. That is why I am writing this blog today. It is one of my deepest hopes that the trials in my life can serve as a lesson for someone, and prevent them from suffering the pain that my choices caused me.
I have learned the hard way that the only way to truly LIVE, to really be ALIVE is to live life with an attitude of gratitude.
To strive to see the blessings in my everyday occurences.
To feel the Lords hand on my shoulder in all things.
To know that for his children who love him, he works all things together for their good.
Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff.
To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments.
To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart.
To discover His heart is to discover not just good gifts but the GOOD GIVER.
Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and helps us exchange bitterness for something better.
This year on Thanksgiving, try to commit to a life that is focused on the blessings, not the trials.
A life that begins and ends each day in prayer, thanking the GOOD GIVER for all his blessings.
Try to be like the 1 out of the 10, who remembered to thank the healer for his health.
Set aside your busy, cautious, self centered, arrogant life, and be the one who went back!