What has become of Thanks-giving?
Growing up I remember people, from all over the globe, actually taking time from their busy schedules, to express some level of thanks for all they had in their lives. Although giving thanks for a bountiful harvest is part of the historical traditions of Thanksgiving Day, the response of showing gratitude really doesn’t have anything to do with eating turkey or passing out while watching a football game on a big screen TV.
It seems our society is not only doing away with the practice of “thanks-giving” it is also replacing the term with “stuff-getting.” Businesses would rather take employees away from enjoying intimate time with their families so they can properly staff their operations in an effort to maximize sales and build profits.
As a nation we have been so blessed with so much, but have we lost the desire to express this simple, yet profound, phrase…”thank you”?
Receiving a painful diagnosis
About 9 months ago I woke up with some tightness in my neck. Over the next couple of weeks that tightness turned into significant pain that began radiating from my neck and down my arm. After visiting a general physician, the word was that I needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately.
Now that was a shock to my system! I mean, I’m a young guy who had been active the majority of his life with hopes of preventing an injury such as this. What was even more difficult to hear was that my condition was so bad that any abrupt turn of my head could possibly lead to paralysis.
I couldn’t believe this diagnosis was accurate. And there was no way I could be admitted into the hospital, because I had a staff meeting the next morning!
Searching for Mercy
So, what do you do after you get an opinion or diagnosis that you don’t like? Well, not only did I get a second opinion, but I searched for another general practitioner, an orthopedic specialist, and two neurosurgeons. They all confirmed the original diagnosis, and one physician grouped me in the top 8 percent of people, with neck pain, that needed surgery to correct the issue. I finally get into the top percentage of all people, but not for a reason I would have chosen.
After talking it over with my fiancée, Dr. Leslie Waddell, we decided I should have spinal surgery.
A Healing Worthy of Giving Thanks
And now, 7 months later, that pain has completely subsided, I am sleeping throughout the night, sometimes a little too long, and feel better than I have in months. Some people have even said that I received a miraculous healing. And for that I praise God and give thanks to all medical personnel involved.
These events reminded me of another healing that took place in Luke 17:11 – 19. Here, Jesus Christ encountered 10 men who were living under the painful diagnosis of leprosy. A closer look at this passage will help us to see true gratitude and give courage for us to properly respond to all of God’s blessings.
All the men recognized their condition and their need for mercy…due to their skin condition and the laws that governed the nation of Israel, these men were considered unclean. This classification truly affected the way they lived because being unclean meant they could not be active members in society, nor could they receive the unity, safety, or the blessings that went along with a right relationship with God through a connection with His chosen people.
All the men recognized where they could find mercy. When seeing that Jesus was nearby the men cried out, asking specifically for Jesus, the Master, to have mercy on them.
All the men responded with faith and obedience. Because visual evidence of a physical healing needed to be verified by a priest, the men would have been compelled to obey Jesus. Especially, if they had any hope, or belief, that He could deliver them from their despairing pain and separation.
All the men were healed. Although the Scriptures do not plainly show any expression of joy, I can imagine these men jumping and dancing as a result of their restoration. The anticipation of standing before the priest and being pronounced clean should have put a happy song in their heart. Personally, I would have been singing “Oh Happy Day.”
Only one man showed his thankfulness. Verses 15 and 16 say “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks…” After asking about the other nine men, Jesus then makes a remarkable statement in verse 19. He says “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” What?? I thought the men were already well when they were healed and on their way to the priest? Right here we can make a distinction between physical and spiritual healing. While the other men could have sang “Oh Happy Day” the song from this one leper was undoubtedly “I Know My Redeemer Lives.”
Jesus is the only One who can extend eternal mercy to us who have an eternal condition of rebellion and pride called sin. Sin separates us from God. But God has done a great deal in our lives through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If you have never placed your trust in the Master of Heaven and Earth please consider doing so today. The best thing we can do this holiday season is to follow the example of this leper by praising God for what he has done as we fall at the feet of Jesus while expressing our spirit of thanksgiving.