Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 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.”
Do you possess a thankful heart? Does it even matter? In the midst of the busyness, noise, crowds and deadlines, sometimes it feels impossible, or maybe even like a waste of time, to slow down long enough to give thanks to an invisible God. It’s easy to find ourselves looking ahead to the next obligation, the next ball game, the next work project or the next casserole to bake for the next family gathering. Think about the story above in Luke 17. I’m sure those lepers had plenty to do after being secluded from society for such a long period of time. They had to be ready to get back to a normal semblance of life with their work and families, yet one of them came back to say thanks.
A few years ago, I noticed that I was growing into an easily irritated, complaining, and pessimistic middle-aged man with a critical spirit. I didn’t like much of what I heard when I listened to myself speak out loud or even just in my own head. Maybe you can relate.
Through a conversation with my wife, after she read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, something changed in me. God gave me the aspiration to become a man of gratitude. I wanted my life to resemble the leper who came back to find Jesus, simply to tell him thanks. This didn’t mean I just began to hide from the unpleasant challenges of life, but it did mean I would start intentionally paying attention to all the gifts and blessings that God had given to me and how He was even using the unpleasant and difficult things to shape me.
I made a very simple application that day about 5 years ago. Every weekend I get alone for about 15-30 minutes to write down things I’m thankful for. I write about things that happened to me that week, things I was able to do for and with others, truths from God’s Word, conversations with my kids and the beautiful traits I see in them, fun experiences and many other things. After I write a dozen or so entries in my journal, I spend a few minutes talking to God about them, thanking Him for each one. This has become one of my favorite weekend activities and I’m truly better for it. What about you? As we approach a season of thanksgiving, what may God be leading you to do to cultivate a thankful heart?