One final lesson I think we can learn from the lepers whom Jesus healed is that thanksgiving opens the door to greater blessing. When that one Samaritan leper came back to thank Jesus for his healing it opened the door for Jesus to say to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." Literally Jesus' words to the former leper were, "Your faith has saved you." All 10 lepers received physical healing, but (so far as we know) only the leper who came back to thank Jesus received salvation. When we thank God for his blessings to us it opens us up to receive even greater blessings from his rich storehouse.
John Yates once wrote,
I was on the football field at our local high school the other day, where my son was running cross country. As I watched these boys and girls, I was preoccupied with recent problems. I also remembered my cross-country days twenty-five years ago and naturally breathed a prayer of thanksgiving. The prayer was something like, "Lord, thank you so much that I'm not running cross country any more."
Then I sort of loosened up a bit and looked around me. The sky was blue; the leaves were yellow; the air was crisp. I began to enjoy the beautiful day. I forgot my problems and quietly thanked God for the beauty of the world around me. My spirits lifted as I began to appreciate the goodness of God, right there in the middle of the football field.When we give thank to God, even for the simplest things in life, it opens us up to perceive and receive so many other blessings.
Fulton Oursler tells of his old nurse, who was born a slave on the eastern shore of Maryland and who attended the birth of his mother and his own birth. She taught him the greatest lesson in giving thanks and finding contentment.
I remember her as she sat at the kitchen table in our house, the hard, old brown hands folded across her starched apron, the glistening eyes, and the husky old whispering voice, saying, "Much obliged, Lord, for my vittles."
"Anna," I asked, "what's a vittle?"
"It's what I've got to eat and drink, that's vittles."
"But you'd get your vittles whether you thanked the Lord or not."
"Sure, but it makes everything taste better to be thankful."I believe that is true. Thanksgiving makes life taste better.
Perhaps the problem for each of us, at some point in life, is not that we are not thankful, but that we do not know who to thank. Phillip Yancey once wrote, "It is a terrible thing to be grateful and have no one to thank, to be awed and have no one to worship."
I think this experience of being thankful but not knowing who to thank can point us to the reality of God. There must be a "Someone" behind all the blessings of this life.
I believe that someone is Jesus, the same Jesus who healed the ten lepers two thousand years ago. I believe that Jesus was and is God in the flesh. He lived a perfect life and died in the place of sinners just like you and me. Now he is risen from the dead and reigning in heaven from whence he showers the just and the unjust with countless blessings every day. Jesus is, supremely, the one we need to thank, not only on Thanksgiving Day but every day of the year. And when our thanksgiving quotient is running a little low, Jesus is the one who can make us more thankful by his Spirit, as he comes to live in our hearts....