What are you thankful for today? To whom do you owe a word of appreciation? Take a moment to pause and return thanks.
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. 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 17:15-19 – NIV
Are you a Monopoly fan? I loved that game as a child. Perhaps you remember the turn on the board that housed the jail. Sometimes the roll of the dice allowed me to pass the jail right by on my way to better properties, but sometimes the luck of the draw landed me squarely behind bars. At that particular juncture, my only hope of rescue depended on one highly coveted card, the one card every player hopes to draw from the deck, the “get out of jail free card.”
I don’t know about you, but during the course of the past year, the forced isolation of Covid precautions have often left me feeling imprisoned in my own home. Perhaps it is my nursing background, but I took the precautions more seriously than some, and as a result, my typical activities have been significantly curtailed. Visits with family and friends have been limited, shopping trips kept at a minimum. We haven’t eaten out in a restaurant in the past six months. Even church attendance has been online. While we did continue our RV travels, we Cooked in the camper and avoided crowds.
Without a doubt, the past year has been hard on all of us. My list of limitations are merely inconveniences compared to the devastating losses so many have endured. My heart breaks as I consider the sickness, the suffering, the horrendous losses.
But this message is not meant to be a lament, but rather a celebration, one that I hope you already have or will soon experience. Just over six weeks ago, I received my first dose of Covid vaccine, and two weeks ago, my second dose. Last Wednesday marked the end of my two week waiting period. I awoke with a little smile on my face, my mind envisioning that deck of cards situated on the monopoly board and my fingers at last plucking the “get out of jail free card” from the deck. My smile broadened, my mind joyfully skipping over all the things I could now do. And then once again, I paused and said, “Thank You, God!”
As I stepped out for my morning walk, my heart was filled with gratitude, not only thankful to God for His faithful provision and protection, but also to all those who made the vaccines a life-saving reality. I thought about the countless hands that have participated in this endeavor in some way, from development to approval, from production to distribution and finally delivery. I considered all the scientists, the lab technicians, the manufacturing line workers, the FDA employees, the truck drivers, and the National Guard. The list goes on and on. Of course, my heart was tender toward all the health care workers who have stepped up to give the shots, but also those who have prepared the doses, scheduled the appointments, and completed the paperwork. So many people to thank, so many that deserve our heartfelt gratitude.
It occurs to me that while I am busy enjoying my “get out of jail free card,” I must also remember to return thanks. Returning thanks is an important enough concept that Jesus highlights it specifically in a story chronicled in the Book of Luke. Ten lepers stood on the roadside calling out to Jesus to be healed. With but a look and a word, Jesus healed them and sent them off to the priest. A major miracle to be sure, yet, out of the ten lepers healed, only one returned to thank Jesus. Not only did the nine fail to return, but Jesus took notice. He called attention to their failure to return.
If Jesus made a point to call out their behavior, that indicates to me that gratitude matters. Gratitude matters to God. God wants us to trust Him with our problems, to have faith that He can heal and help us, but when He acts, He wants us to notice. Why? Because noticing makes us outwardly and upwardly focused. A heart overflowing with thanksgiving leaves little room for pride and selfishness. Thankfulness turns our focus from worshipping our own desires to worshipping our Lord.
Friends, today and every day, let us return thanks. Let us not fail to take notice of our daily blessings. May our attitudes be full of gratitude, both to God and to those God uses to heal this broken world.
If you are reading this post and have participated in the development or delivery of the vaccines in any way, let me say, “Thank you!” If you have received your vaccine already, would you join me in returning thanks? If you have not yet received your vaccine, I hope you will take steps to pursue it so that we can all put this difficult chapter of Covid behind us.
As we begin a new week, may we welcome it with a gratitude attitude. Like that Monopoly board, we never quite know where we might land in this life. Certainly there will always be unexpected turns and hazareds. Still, as we make our next move, we will never go wrong when we let trust and thankfulness guide our steps.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7 – NIV
O Good and Gracious God, thank You for Your faithful provision and protection during these frightening and challenging times. Thank You for the life saving vaccines and treatments that have been developed to combat this deadly virus. Thank You for every hand that has participated in the vaccine development and distribution. Thank You for the nurses, doctors and countless health care workers who have worked so hard to care for the sick and suffering, each putting themselves and their families at risk for the sake of others. We owe them all a great debt. Lord, lead us forth with grateful and giving hearts that we would each return thanks by serving one another in love. Thank You, Lord!
In the Loving Name of Jesus, we give thanks and praise,