Cancer is the dreaded diagnosis of our day. In Jesus’ day it was leprosy. A contagious disease for which there was no treatment, affected people were quarantined outside cities and towns to minimize its spread. Sadly they were ridiculed and rejected out of fear and ignorance.
But Jesus was unafraid. One of the most remarkable stories in the gospels is an account of His healing ten of these rejected outcasts. It’s not their healing which is the focus of the story, though that in itself is a stunning achievement for no one had ever been cured of this feared disease. What the Holy Spirit emphasized is the response of these ten.
Luke, a doctor, was the one to remember this miracle for us. He more than any understood the magnitude of this healing. The ten lepers came near enough to Jesus that He could hear their plea but kindly they ‘stood at a distance’. In response to their shouts for mercy Jesus instructed them to go to the priests. In obedience they turned and started walking and as they went they were healed.
Now for the bewildering part: “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” Jesus must have been a little shocked too because He asks, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?”
The one who returned was rewarded with forgiveness of his sins while the nine received only physical healing.
The question the Spirit of God wants us to ask today is are we the one or are we more like the nine? We are all prone to read this story and think, “I’d never be like the nine.” But are we? Do we move on in life ignoring the gifts and miracles God works every day? Do we complain more than give thanks? I’m afraid an honest accounting would find us far less grateful than we think we are.
The month for focusing on thanks giving has begun. Will you pray this short prayer every day? Will you pray it with your family recognizing that a grateful heart is in itself a gift from God, not something we can do on our own? Rather than become consumed with the necessary cooking and preparations for Thanksgiving, might you instead become consumed with intentional gratitude this month? Real Thanksgiving is about giving thanks in all things not in groaning tables of edible things.
Join me in an intentional focus on growing a grateful heart this month.