Ten leprous men had an encounter with Jesus and begged Him for healing. He inclined, and they were miraculously healed. “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?’”
This brief parable has stopped me in my tracks. All ten were healed but only one came back to give thanks, a Samaritan. A “breed” that no one liked. Jesus dictated the story with intention. He knew it would peeve the Pharisees and Israelites that the only one to return to give thanks was one they both despised. Does it peeve you? It should.
How often do we go about our days, our weeks, our lives, without giving thanks for what we’ve been given. And I don’t mean thanking God for our food at the dinner table, although He is definitely worthy of our praise at 5:30 p.m. each night. I’m talking about continually giving thanks for all God has given us, both physically, and circumstantially.
Stop and think: are there physical things in your life that you are thankful for? Name some. Are you thankful for the circumstances you are in right now?
In Ephesians Paul tells us that a spiritually-filled person gives thanks always and in everything.
Do you do that?
Scripture calls us to always give thanks in everything –
in plenty, and in want.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we probably tend to complain about not having “enough” or wishing we were in some other circumstance, rather than being thankful.
“But Beth, you don’t know my circumstances.” And you’re right, I don’t. But it doesn’t matter.
We would all agree that giving thanks in seasons of plenty is as easy as it gets, but what about giving thanks during suffering, hardship, or even death? Do we thank God for our circumstances during ALL circumstances, or just the ones that are easy? Scripture calls us to always give thanks in everything – in plenty, and in want. And if you believe in the omniscience and goodness of God, and His sovereignty and provision over all the Earth, then you are agreeing that He is in control of, and wills your circumstances. If that is true, in His goodness He has sovereignly allowed you to be wherever you are. Therefore, God is good and is worthy to be praised and thanked during plenty and during want. You have a biblical imperative to praise God during each moment of every circumstance! Here’s why…
Romans 8 says that God works for the good of those who love Him, and that “goodness” is our being conformed to the image of His son. There will be many days when this doesn’t feel so good, but it is good. Because God loves you and He is good, He is using your circumstances to conform you to the image of Christ. And if we’re honest with ourselves, at the end of a good day, that’s really what we want.
He is using your circumstances to conform you to the image of Christ
But what about at the end of a bad day? That’s definitely not what I want. This is where faith comes in. In those difficult circumstances where we are struggling to give thanks in our suffering, we must have faith. Faith that even though we don’t understand, and it hurts, and His goodness is veiled by our own strain, we would trust that He is working on us and making us more like His son.
Lastly, if there ever comes a day where you can’t think of anything to be thankful for because your life is just that horrible, let me give you a hint: Because you were dead, and in His overwhelming and unconditional love for you, Christ took upon God’s wrath in your place so that you could receive His righteousness and be placed in right relationship with God to be truly alive for ALL OF ETERNITY. Now if that doesn’t cause you to get on your knees and praise God for sending His Son, then you have no concept of your depravity, nor of eternity.
If you’re struggling with simply believing in His goodness and seeing the gifts He has for you today, pray for the faith you need to believe in His unwavering character. And for those of you who just need a kick in the pants here are a few things to keep in mind when you possess an ungrateful heart:
- Start small. Ann Voskamp wrote an amazing and profoundly poetic book entitled One Thousand Gifts, where she pens her experience giving thanks for the small things. I beg you to check it out as she teaches how to (and why to) give thanks in even the smallest of things.
- Get outside of yourself. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. Do you have any idea how blessed you really are? You were give breath today. Does that mean anything to you? You were give clothes today, you were given food today, you were given a computer or smartphone today, does that mean anything to you? You have no idea how good you really have it. Stop complaining.
- Focus on the good. This one is particularly cheesy, but unapologetically true. Have you ever been around an eternal optimist? I’m the daughter of one. And although it can sometimes be overwhelming, it is utterly refreshing to bear witness to that kind of perspective. Tap into that and experience what is good, even in the darkest, and hardest of circumstances.
“Father, the circumstance I am in now is difficult and painful. I would not have chosen it, but You in Your love and wisdom chose it for me. You intend it for my good, and so by faith I thank You for the good You are going to do in my life through it. Help me to genuinely believe this and be able to thank You from my heart.” – Jerry Bridges
This article has been republished from SelfTalktheGospel.com, with permission.