Here is a story about gratitude, and it appears in the Book of Luke, chapter 17. The story has some implications that got my attention. To summarize:
• Ten lepers called out to Jesus, “Take pity on us.”
• Jesus responded, “Go show yourself to the priests to confirm you are healed.” As they went they were healed.
• One of them turned back, and fell at Jesus’ feet thanking him over and over.
• Then Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?”
• Jesus said to the one man, “Go on your way. Your trust and confidence that spring from your belief in God has restored you to health.”
Jesus implied he was disappointed with the nine who failed to express gratitude. Whenever I pray for someone or something, I try to remember later to thank God for results. If it’s a desperate situation I often say Thank-you multiple times. For example, I have a friend who has been going through a particularly hard time (a desperate 10-year problem, like what is known as a 10-year flood). But her situation is improving, and she often says Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you — over and over. In turn, in my prayers I have been thanking God over and over for her improving situation….. Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you God.
Now for a person with leprosy, or another serious illness, prayers and thanks will be focused on the illness. Same for any serious problem……even of a different nature. But what if we are in one of those uneventful spots, where life is relatively smooth? In such a sweet spot should we still be grateful to God? Obviously yes. Further, if we are in one of life’s sweet spots, it is a golden opportunity to help others to hope. And we can even be grateful for this opportunity. Click on the link to see more about this concept. If we look around, we are surrounded by people who are feeling down, or are losing hope, or are depressed. We can offer to help, and nine times out of ten our offer will be gratefully received.
In good times or bad times, here are some things to be grateful for…..things which many folks overlook:
• That we can walk (or dance)…..past trees and grass and streams and mountains.
• That we can see and hear……robins in oak trees, Canadian geese flying in V-formations, caterpillars crossing the trail, water foaming over rocks in a stream.
• That we can think……problem-solve, or create, or be stimulated by new ideas.
• That we can sing……golden oldies, C&W dancing songs, the Anvil chorus from IL Trovatore opera.
A good example of this kind of thing can be found in “A Morning Walk along the Arroyo in Albuquerque”. Click on the link to go there.
Post-Script 1: A spiritual application. There is something spiritual about thanking over and over. Jesus taught his followers to Ask and keep on asking (even though the keep on part is missing in most Bible translations). Click on the link to read more. Jesus revealed to the one leper a key to life that the other nine missed. And the man was a Samaritan, despised by the ‘chosen’ people of Judah. “Your trust and confidence that spring from your belief in God has restored you to health“, was what Jesus told him. He wasn’t a churchgoer, nor a religious zealot, nor a disciplined follower. He was a distressed outcast living with pain and waiting for death. About all he could do was cry out to God (via Jesus) for help. A miracle came, and he thanked God over and over. He was provided with a valuable key to life based on a personal relationship with God. The conclusion seems to be to Ask and keep on asking, and thank and keep on thanking.
Post-Script 2: Gratitude is an attitude, and can boost emotional health. (Optional reading).
In his book Spontaneous Happiness, Dr Weil has a section on the importance of gratitude to emotional health. The concept is relatively new. Here is a quote from the book:
What do you have to be grateful for? How about being alive for starters? Or enjoying good health? Or being able to put food on your table, food of better quality and greater variety than people have ever had? It is a time of relative peace. You have shelter, warmth in winter, material comforts beyond the imaginings of our ancestors. The sun freely gives you light, warmth, and the energy that makes your food. If you happen to watch the sun rise, that might be a good occasion to feel grateful for the sun’s gifts. I find that if I don’t create such occasions, I forget to feel grateful. It’s just so easy to take it all for granted.
I have practiced gratitude for a number of years. I make mental notes of things to be grateful for. Flowers that have opened in or around my home. The unconditional love I feel from my dogs. A glorious sunset. Rain in the desert. The gift of friendship. The resilience of my body.
Two approaches on practicing gratitude are mentioned in the book:
The Gratitude Journal
Dedicating a notebook to this, to make mental notes throughout the day about things to be grateful for, and to enter them in the notebook at bedtime.
The Gratitude Visit
Writing a letter of appreciation to someone who has had a beneficial influence on you. Then meeting that person and reading the letter to him or her face-to-face.
I think God wants us to be grateful. It’s funny how a concept like gratitude was emphasized in Jesus’ time, but has been rediscovered in recent times — 2,000 years later!
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
Then one of them, seeing that he was cured, turned back, thanking and praising God with a loud voice: And he fell prostrate at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him over and over. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?’ (Book of Luke, chapter 17).
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