I came across a blog this week entitled “The The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About.” Amit Amin discovered multiple personal benefits, many of them health benefits, to practicing gratitude in his daily life. His observations are helpful, but I found one that was unexpected, given his worldview. He has found that gratitude has increased his sense of the spiritual. This surprised him for, as he admits, “I am irreligious, and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. My solution has been to re-direct my feelings towards Lady Luck [italics mine].” What a very “unfortunate” solution, I thought. And is it even possible to thank “Lady Luck”? I’d like to explore that in a moment.
The Bible reminds us that everyone has been the recipient of grace; that life is a gift, that we have received countless blessings from God’s hand; and that despite our sin, we’ve been offered mercy and the gift of an eternal life in Christ. For a child of God thankfulness is not defined by a single day, it defines a way of life.
In Luke 17: 11-19, ten men with leprosy come to Jesus asking for help. Hearing their desperate prayer, Jesus sends them to the priest, the one person who can certify that they are ritually “clean” and mainstream them back into society. On their way, they realize they are cured of their affliction. But here is the strange part of the story. Only one returns to say, “Thank you!” and he was a hated Samaritan. He returns not out of obligation, or because Jesus demanded it. He comes out of sheer joy, dropping to his knees and “praising God with a loud voice!” “Get up and go on your way,” Jesus says, “your faith has made you well!”
I have no doubt that after these men were declared clean, they wanted to run home to be with their families; to hug and kiss them for the first time in years; to feel the company of friends. No doubt, they were preoccupied with the blessings that awaited them. All but one. One wanted to hug and kiss his family just as much as the others, but there was unfinished business to take care of first - to thank the One who had made it all possible.
The English word “thanksgiving” translates the Greek eucháristos which combines two words: good (eú) and grace (charis). It implies gratitude for an unmerited blessing. A gift always implies a gift-giver. We can certainly thank our parents or our spouse or even our boss on Thanksgiving, but as I expressed to Amin, we can’t thank “lady luck,” nor our “lucky stars” for that matter, because neither “luck” or “stars” had any intention of giving us a gift. Yet what seems clear is that Amin feels like one who has been given a gift; a gift not from a billion lucky stars, but from the Star Maker. “It makes me want to believe in a benevolent God,” he wrote. “Don’t fight it, embrace it!” several of us said. Thanksgiving is about much more than reflecting on the “good stuff” that has happened to us. To give thanks, is to thank the Giver of all good gifts (James 1:17).
And so, one man runs back to the Giver and falls at his feet, saying, “Thank you!” Do you feel the wonder? This man can thank the Giver because He now has a face, a face of compassion and love. The Giver has feet, feet that walked dusty roads to those in need, and hands that were nailed to a cross for a broken world. The Giver has a voice, a voice that gives strength and power to the hearer: “Get up,” the Giver says, “and go on your way, for your faith [in Me] has made you well.” The Giver has a name, and what a blessing it is to know it….
Hope to see you soon…