In the United States, the season of fall often prompts warm and nostalgic memories of pumpkins, brisk mornings, and colorful leaves that crunch when we take a walk. As November approaches, preparations for the holiday of Thanksgiving commence. Thanksgiving Day represents a day set aside to celebrate harvest and the blessings of the past year. Modeled after the harvest feast shared between the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people in 1621, this gathering time flows with intentional thanksgiving and gratitude.
Thanksgiving presents space to remember God’s many blessings while gathering with friends and family. Giving thanks offers the invitation to remember with gratitude.
Remember appears over 230 times in the Bible. God instructs us to remember. Remember the Sabbath. Remember the LORD. Remember whose you are. God tells us that He remembers His covenant. He remembers His promises. He remembers our sin no more. Remembering with gratitude is important because all of our blessings are gifts from God.
How would you assess your memory? In what ways do you acknowledge God’s gifts and grace in life?
Gratitude – the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
The psalmist said, ”I will utter hidden things, things from of old, things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us” (Ps. 78:2-3). He endeavored to remind Israel of God’s goodness so that they would set their hope in God, not forget His works, and keep His commandments. Yet, Israel forgot, rebelled against God, failed to trust Him, and experienced His discipline. When we reflect, we notice God’s power, grow in trust and confidence in Him, and rely upon Him to carry us through the light and dark circumstances of life.
When we remember, we develop strength in God, build our dependence upon His promises and goodness, and then testify of the works of God to encourage others in their journey with the Lord.
I find myself ruminating on the story from the Bible found in Luke 17:11-19.
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled 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!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
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?”
Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
What did you notice as you read this story? Does any emotion bubble to the surface of your soul? Take a moment to be aware of what stirs within you.
I’m curious about some of the characters in this encounter.
- Lepers – Those labeled unclean, ostracized by society, because of a chronic infectious disease which caused skin lesions and nerve damage. They lived outside the villages, congregating together and forced to function apart from family and friends.
- Samaritan – The scorned race, disliked by the Jewish people, who avoided them at all costs.
- Jesus – The Son of God, Jesus teaches, touches, and transforms even the outcasts along the way to show that His grace abounds for everyone..Traveling with His disciples, Jesus heads towards Jerusalem where His ultimate love for mankind is revealed.
Questions abound within me which I find helpful to engage this text. I pose them here to stir your mind and heart as you journey with God.
With the Holy Spirit as your guide, imagine you were one of the ten lepers.
- How do you feel about getting close to Jesus?
- Are you weary from asking for help? Does your skin itch?
- How long have you been battling this disease?
- Who else have you approached for healing?
- What is it like living in a colony of other lepers? Are you lonely, sad, discouraged?
- When Jesus instructed you to go to the priest – how did you feel? Were you scared, confused, encouraged?
- What happened when you realized you were cleansed and healed?
- How did you look differently?
- Did you feel entitled to help; that it was about time something good happened in your life?
- Were you afraid the life you had known for so long would be now drastically different?
- Who did you want to go see first? Who did you plan to hug?
- Was you heart enveloped with thanksgiving?
- Were you compelled to return to Jesus, or did you think He would just “know you were thankful?”
- If you were the one to return, what happened to your faith?
- Did you want to say anything to the other nine, or did you ever interact with them again?
The Samaritan leper, the ultimate outsider, returned to Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, to say thank you. I wonder what happened to the other nine? I feel sad for Jesus that they did not remember His goodness and grace to them. I ponder the times that I fail to remember God’s goodness and grace in my life. I learn from this restored individual, who not only remembered his healer, but he praised God, with gratitude, in a loud voice.
Notice the power of reflection. The healed leper remembered the one to whom he called for mercy. When the man noticed his healing, he could not contain himself – gratitude flowed from his heart through his lips. The cured man ran back and fell before Jesus in thankfulness: his appreciation for Jesus healing words stirred extravagant gratitude. He now was clean and life would be different forevermore. The darkness of his circumstance encountered the light of Christ – he experienced cleansing externally and internally. Hallelujah.
Take a moment to imagine the scene of the healed leper before Jesus. Have you ever expressed such gratitude to God? What stirs in your soul?
As we approach Thanksgiving, may we remember the many gifts of God, both external and internal. Let us remember and fall before Jesus in gratitude. Live a grateful life, praising God with extravagant gratitude.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
Psalm 106:1 – Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Ann Voskamp. One Thousand Gifts 10th Anniversary Edition: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Nashville, TN. 2021.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy. Chicago, IL 2021.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
Rend Collective. Count Every Blessings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6Y91axwxfI
Brandon Lake. Gratitude. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1em6MJp0zUc