Giving Thanks…

I am reading this stunning book.  It’s called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It is truly one of the most eloquent, poetic books I have ever read….and I’m only on Chapter 3.

There is so much to chew on so I’m really taking my time with it.  But tonight, Alex asked me to read him the story called “The Man Who Said, ‘Thank You'”.  It’s from the Read Aloud Bible Stories, Vol. 1 by Ella K. Lindvall, based on Luke 17:11-19.  I almost jumped out of my skin when I realized that the chapter I’d just read from One Thousand Gifts was based on the same scripture.  Alex and I could have a book club!!!  Ummm…

Anyhow, Luke describes how there were ten men who were really sick.  So sick that they had to be away from their families….aka:  leprosy stikes again.

They encounter Christ and ask for his help and he heals all ten of them.

And what Ann focuses on and obviously Luke as well, is the reality that only one came back to thank Jesus for healing him, basically for changing his life and restoring him.

Alex was baffled that the tenth man, the one that came back to thank Jesus, was throwing himself at Jesus’ feet.  He kept asking why he was saying “thank you” by lying with his face on the ground.  That’s certainly an example of humble gratitude!

And in this passage, vs. 17-19, Jesus asks the 10th guy, the thankful one, where his formerly leprous buddies went….it never gives his response.  Just Jesus’ questions.  They kind of hang in the air:  “Did only ONE man come back to say, ‘thank you!’?”  SILENCE.  And so he tells the 10th gentleman (a Samaritan, nonetheless), to get up and go because his faith had made him well.

What Ann shares in this chapter, reflecting on the Luke passage, is the same confusion over this story that I have always felt.  Wasn’t the 10th guy already healed?  Why does Jesus say to him, your “faith has made you well”?  But the point she draws is that gratitude, taking time to give thanks, helps the leper {and us!} experience the fullness of healing and God’s presence.  We are called to be people of gratitude, not just to appease God, but because of the effect it has on us too.

Jesus, even knowing what horror was to come, took time to meet with his friends and give thanks, breaking the bread together with his disciples.  And he did this just hours before entering into an unimaginable day of pain, betrayal and abandonment.  He stopped and took time to be grateful.

This is hard teaching.  A hard example.  A reminder that God calls us into a space of gratitude, even when life feels broken and lost.

It seems like it’s a lot easier to be thankful AFTER Jesus does his whole healing deal with the ten lepers, but even there, only 1 said thanks.  10%!!!  That’s not such a high success rate.  And then you consider that we are to be people of gratitude.  ALL the time.  Even in the midst of brokenness.  Even BEFORE experiencing healing.  Phew.  For reals.  Hard stuff.

I’m still trying to really swallow this tough pill, and so the quote that begins chapter 3 of Ann’s book, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, gives me something to grasp onto. She’s kind of the “go to gratitude girl” and author these days.  She wrote:

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,

those transcendent moments of awe that change forever

how we experience life and the world.”

So may we enter into thankfulness, knowing that it leads us to “everyday epiphanies”.  Epiphanies which will hopefully transcend the darkness and hard places and help us see our surroundings anew.

One thought on “Giving Thanks…

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