I am working on a book on Psalms (hopefully available on Amazon soon!) and I have organized it into a five-week study for small groups. Each week will focus on a type of psalm: praise, lament, trust, wisdom, and thanksgiving. As I was writing the leader’s guide chapter on Psalms of Thanksgiving, I wrote a discussion question that made me wonder what my own response would be: “Do you remember to thank God for everything he has given you?” I pondered that for a moment. Do I? Do you? Or do we take this life, this world, these homes, our families, good health, our food, and our jobs all for granted? Do we just go along living our lives and act like we’re entitled to everything? Or worse, do we think we have earned it all by the work of our hands alone?

I have a family member who would argue that she has worked for everything she has. Her lifestyle is a result of her hard work, her persistence, and her skills. I have no argument with that. Surely these things have served her well. But I believe that her work ethic was passed down from generations of people who worked God’s harvest before her and taught her that value. I believe her persistence is a personality trait that was knit into her by God when he formed her in the womb. And I believe that God gives us skills and spiritual gifts with which we can serve him and sustain our families. I don’t think there is anything we have for which we can take sole credit. God is the creator of everything, even our ability to earn a living. For that I thank God!

Our lectionary passage today tells a wonderful story of healing. Jesus was doing his thing, traveling between Samaria (where his type was not received) and Galilee (where his type belonged). Upon entering a village, he met ten men who desperately needed healing:

Luke 17 (Common English Bible)

11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”

14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 

It is interesting to note that a measure of obedience was required from the men. They were being asked to step out on faith and participate in their healing. They had to go to the priests. Their healing was not just doled out to them. It is also noteworthy that their common disease had broken down the societal barriers that normally stood between Samaritans and Jews. They were a mixed group, bound together in misery … and hope.

15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

The Samaritan was doubly blessed. While all ten received physical healing, only he returned to Jesus for a healing of heart and received an additional blessing of faith. The foreigner became the faithful.

I think that if we look hard enough, we can always find something to be grateful for. Bible commentator Matthew Henry was once robbed of his wallet. That night he wrote in his diary all the things he was grateful for. He was grateful that he had never been robbed before. He was thankful that they took his wallet but not his life. He wrote that even though they took all his money, it wasn’t very much. Finally, he gave thanks that he was the one who was robbed and not the one who did the robbing.

Do you owe God a debt of thanksgiving? Has he done anything for you lately? Don’t be ungrateful. It is never too late to return to the Lord with an attitude of gratitude.

He deserves no less from us.

Pink Sky Blessings

An Attitude of Gratitude

I have been the blessed recipient of some very gracious expressions of appreciation lately, none of which were deserved, but all of which are deeply appreciated. A friend sent a check in my honor to be used for something close to my heart at my church as a thank you for officiating her husband’s funeral. A thank you card for teaching a class in another church contained a gift of money that was totally unnecessary, and touched me deeply. My dog sitter left a mason jar of flowers with a Disney princess balloon in my living room to wish me a happy birthday. My cousin sent a flower arrangement that was so magnificent, I could hardly carry it up the stairs. All of these things caught me off guard and have truly humbled me. Expressions of kindness such as these can be like a long drink of water for a thirsty traveler. These folks will never know how much their gestures meant to me.

In our passage today, Isaiah writes a hymn of gratitude to God for his deliverance. He reminds us that God is our strength, our might, and our salvation:

Isaiah 12 (New Revised Standard Version)

Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
    he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 

What a beautiful word-picture this presents! Drawing water from the wells of salvation is something God invites us to do every day. Are you thirsty? Do you need to be saved? Come, and drink.

And Isaiah reminds us that we should show God our deep appreciation for all that he has done for us:

And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord,
    call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah believes that the Holy One of Israel deserves our praise and thankfulness. He also says that these expressions of thankfulness should be public. We are to make God’s deeds known in all the nations, and make his name known in all the earth. We are invited to shout aloud! In other words, share your testimony with someone. That is today’s challenge.

So the question is, what has God done for you lately? Make a list, and offer a gift of gratitude and witness in his name.

I thank my God for all of you today. Thank you for reading!

Thankful for Sunrise by Michelle Robertson