Transformed By Gratitude

For the past few years since retirement, my parents spend half of the year in Vietnam and Australia. While in Vietnam, a portion of their time is spent visiting orphanages and facilities that house and care for the unwanted, the outcasts of society, the lame, and the diseased, left to institutions. I admire my parents; their mission is to live to give, and they have instilled those principles in our lives as well. If you have read "my story" you will understand why they have so much to be thankful for. Over the years, they have demonstrated gratefulness in many ways by being a blessing to others. We have watched them abide by the principle that it is more blessed to give then to receive. What an example to my siblings and me.

This last trip my parents bought pictures back of some of the institutions that they visited. I could barely look at the photos without shedding tears at seeing the living conditions. Several of the residence had missing limbs; arms, or legs, blind, and no opportunities to leave their stiff bamboo beds without someone dared to visit them and helped them off their beds. These people were so blessed by my parent's visit and generosity. The financial gift that they saved them was able to help provide for their basic everyday needs that they lacked due to their deteriorated conditions.

Seeing the photos and hearing their stories was a reminder to be grateful for the life that I have; the family, friends, health, and the daily provision that sometimes are taken for granted. Mom shared with me that this type of out casting is similar to that in Jesus' days when those who had the skin disease of leprosy had to live outside the villages because they were considered unclean.

During my reading time this morning in Luke, I came across a very powerful illustration about gratitude. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem passing a village where there were ten men with leprosy who recognized Him from a distance. They also heard about how he performed great miracles. Leprosy is compared to Hansen's disease today. Leprosy is a bacteria disease that eats away the flesh, and often times fingers and toes or limbs may be lost due to the infections. During this time of history, anyone with this disease was sent off to a leper's colony away from society, away from people.

On this day, there were ten lepers that saw Jesus and tortured out to Him and asked Him to have mercy on them. Jesus immediately responded to them and told them to go show themselves to the priest. They must have thought to themselves, "What, how in the world will we be able to show ourselves in this condition?" You have to understand, in those days, a priest has to confirm if you are cleansed from leprosy or healed before allowing you to go back home or to be around other people. However, these men were still full of leprosy when Jesus cave them those instructions. Mind you, if they headed into town, they would probably be stoned or thrown out, but these guys were no dummies … if Jesus told them to go see the priest, and having heard about all the wonderful miracles he performed, they heeded His instructions, even if for a second they had their doubts. In their hearts they probably knew that Jesus was up to somethin '!

These ten lepers left and headed toward the pries and "as they went", they received their healing. They probably roled up their sleeves and saw that their sores disappeared. Jesus was aware of the law of leprosy and knew that if they acted on what He said; it was a demonstration of their or faith. For this reason, He told them to go show themselves to the priest, so he could confirm them cleansed from this disease. I bet they took off running and could not wait to tell the miracle. Jesus knew what he was doing, and knew that if they chose to go regardless of what they saw with their eyes, that before they arrived at their destination, they would be restored to health.

The story goes on to say that only one of the lepers, when he saw that he was wounded, fell on his face and brave God thanks. This man got Jesus' attention. Jesus replied to the man and said, "Were there not ten? But the nine, where are they? Was not one found who returned to give God glory except this man?" Because this one leper returned to give God thanks, Jesus blessed him even more. He told this man that his faith has made him whole.

Being healed is a miracle no doubt! The symptoms of the illness may have disappeared, perhaps there were some limbs still missing even though the sores disappeared. But to be made whole means, nothing missing, nothing lacking; complete; entity; not defective or imperfect (Webster's 1828). This tenth leper demonstrated gratitude and thanksgiving, and as a result of his healing got a double blessing. He was not only healed of the leprosy, but whatever was missing in his body, in his life, Jesus made him whole again. The secret to being made whole was being thankful. His life was transformed by gratitude. (Luke 17: 11-19)

You may not have leprosy, but is there anything that is missing or missing in your life today that you need made whole, complete, not defective or imperfect? Can you find something in your life to be grateful for? Even if all Hell seems to be breaking loose, you can find something to be thankful for. Or you may say, "This is just a nice story from the Bible, but it's not for today, come on, we're living in the twenty-first century." Yes, we are … there is a saying that goes, "If the principals work, work the principles!" Principles never cease!

I love this quote by Rabbi Harold Kushner, "If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."

This is a truth; the principle of gratitude will transform your life. "You will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given to you." (Sarah Ban Breathnach). And in everything, give thanks! (1Thes. 5:18)