By Roger Kruse
I have never forgotten the time my wife and I presented a birthday gift to someone close us. We were anticipating its opening followed by the appreciation normally expressed. However, something strange happened. The present was put down, ignored, and never opened. Not a word of acknowledgement or thanks was spoken. Honestly, we were shocked and troubled by the incident. It was painful to feel rejected. Where was the gratefulness?
Thanksgiving is close to God’s heart. The Bible tells us that He is the source of every blessing. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” No wonder the psalmist tells us that thanksgiving is the appropriate mindset to have when we come into God’s presence. He exhorts us to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” So why do we so often fail? Why are we so prone to take things for granted or even act as if we are entitled to the blessings that come our way? A lack of thanksgiving is actually a symptom of our failure to give God the glory He deserves. Someone might say, “Why should I glorify God? What has He ever done for me?” Life was meant to be lived with God at the center. Our Creator gave each of us the gift of life. From His gracious hand “we have all received one blessing after another.” The health, strength, abilities, and favorable providence we so often experience all point to our kind and benevolent Lord. Thanksgiving should be the order of the day. Instead, we are much more fluent in complaining and criticizing.
Have you heard the story of the ten lepers? Jesus was traveling 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.” In Biblical times, lepers often congregated together because they were treated as outcasts. They were considered ceremonially unclean, and were cut off from family and community, required to stay outside the city. If anyone came near them, Old Testament law stipulated that they call out in a loud voice, “Unclean, unclean!” On this occasion they cried out, but not the usual pronouncement concerning their uncleanness. Instead, they called out to the Miracle Worker, focusing on what Jesus alone could do for them. Christ told them to go and show themselves to the priests. The Scripture says that “As they went, they were cleansed.” They received their healing as they stepped out in faith and did what Jesus told them. Showing oneself to the priest was required in order to confirm the healing and be allowed to reintegrate back into the Jewish community. What happened next is fascinating. One of the ten lepers, when he realized he was healed, turned around and came back to Jesus. He praised God in a loud voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus, thanking Him. Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” He observed that all ten where healed, but only one showed gratitude to God, and he was a Samaritan.
The lesson for you and me is that God is pleased when we say “thank you”. Our thanksgiving invites a personal connection to the Savior. As a result, our faith is affirmed. It is all too easy for you and me to fall into a pattern of failing to thank God for the blessings we receive. If we want our faith to grow and draw us closer to Jesus, we need to cultivate the holy habit of thanksgiving. Why not learn to recognize His blessings and say a simple thank you to the Lord throughout the day? Your gratitude to God can pave the way for a spiritual breakthrough. When you make every day a day of thanksgiving, your heart will overflow with blessings.
Roger Kruse is learning that there is always something to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is actually an expression of faith. When we acknowledge the goodness of God at work in our lives, we open our spiritual eyes to the kindness of our loving heavenly Father.