On Giving Thanks…

Posted: November 26, 2015 in Generic, Inspirational, Motivational, Religion
Tags: , , , , , ,
Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed and how workable the Christian system is. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation to God and to one another.” — John Clayton

I have always been intrigued by a particular snippet from a day in the life of the man called Jesus. Imagine him walking along the road on the outskirts of town when all at once ten lepers see him approaching. The lepers knew that it was unlawful for them to approach Jesus. From a distance, perhaps just across a thoroughfare or maybe a small field, they began to shout, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

A record of this event can be found in the Newer Testament book of Luke:

11-13 In the course of his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus crossed the boundary between Samaria and Galilee, and as he was approaching a village, ten lepers met him. They kept their distance but shouted out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14-18 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.” And it happened that as they went on their way they were cured. One of their number, when he saw that he was cured, turned round and praised God at the top of his voice, and then fell on his face before Jesus and thanked him. This man was a Samaritan. And at this Jesus remarked, “Weren’t there ten men healed? Where are the other nine? Is nobody going to turn and praise God for what he has done, except this stranger?”

19 And he said to the man, “Stand up now, and go on your way. It is your faith that has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)

Word was getting around that Jesus had the power to heal the sick. This Nazarene of no reputation was beginning to gain notoriety. Lepers posed an interesting conundrum. Under the law, they were not allowed to mingle within society. They were considered perpetually unclean and the good people of the community were forbidden to have any physical contact with them. Lepers lived banished lives, dwelling on the fringes of the social order. This is why Jesus never drew near to the lepers nor did he lay his hand upon them as he had so often done before when healing the sick.

Now here is what intrigues me: When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.”  Why?  Because under the law, if a leper was healed of this accursed disease, he must “show himself” to a priest for confirmation of the cure and to obtain permission to mingle once again in society.  Any priest in town was qualified to verify the completeness of the restorationJesus very likely gave the lepers a reason to believe they would be healed. Nonetheless, this command which Jesus made before there was any visible indication of a cure was a deliberate test of their faith.  So off went the ten men with horrible contagion, and as they were walking along they began to notice their leprosy was disappearing.

One of the ten was a Samaritan. And, just in case you did not know, the Jews at that time hated the Samaritans. This is why Jesus made note of him. When this particular leper saw that he was cured, he freaked.   In his elation the once diseased Samaritan loudly screamed praises to God. But here’s what I really want you to get: filled with gratitude he turned around and “fell on his face before Jesus and thanked him.”

Where were the other nine? Just the one “stranger” (the Samaritan) returned to give thanks to the Almighty. This did not escape notice. Jesus said, “Weren’t there ten men healed? Where are the other nine? Is nobody going to turn and praise God for what he has done, except this stranger?”

Imagine. An obvious miracle, a God of saving grace and power, but only one who stopped to give thanks with a grateful heart.  By the way, did you notice that Jesus credited the leper’s faith with his cure?  He said, “Stand up now, and go on your way. It is your faith that has made you well.”  Hmm.

So, ten men took a walk for the cure but only one came back to say thanks. Leper number ten had the attitude of gratitude. If I were a gambling man, I’d wager he never forgot the man called Jesus who literally saved his life that day.

Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgiving. Turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Paul Harvey, the much beloved American radio broadcaster and writer, passed away in February of 2009. It is estimated that at one time his various programs reached 24 million people each week on over 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and 300 newspapers. In a 1977 broadcast of his widely popular “The Rest of the Story, Paul Harvey shared this story,

“It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean…For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark…ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred. In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”

Now this is still Captain Rickenbacker talking…”Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

So, now you know that Captain Eddie Rickenbacker made it. And now you also know…that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset…on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy eye browed, and slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…like manna in the wilderness.”***

What does a grateful Samaritan leper, an old war hero who could never forget that God saved him through a seagull, and a grateful sinner like me, who was also once redeemed by God’s Amazing Grace, have in common?  The attitude of gratitude.

Maybe you have something to thank God for today. I hope you will take the time to tell him. He adores you no matter what, but he sure loves to hear those two powerful words – THANK YOU – fall from your lips.

Thanksgiving.  Celebrate it.  Pass it on….

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656

***Paul Aurandt, “The Old Man and the Gulls”, Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story, 1977, quoted in Heaven Bound Living, Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, p. 79-80.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s