On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Sama'ria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."
I am an ungrateful child most of the time. At least, I imagine that is how God must look upon me when I fuss and lament over what I want and what I need. It seems to be a natural result of concupiscence, though, because without express instruction on how to be grateful, my daughter falls into the same tendencies, no real surprise there. So, how do we teach our children to be grateful? The answer is we must be grateful first.
Jesus is not concerned with how we do this. He just wants us to thank Him and praise Him. That's all. We must make a conscious decision each day to thank Him and praise Him for even the mundane...even the suffering we endure. The leper in this Gospel has to take a moment to leave the crowds of amazed people around the temple, leave his friends and their rejoicing, leave the self-gratifying joy and find true joy in thanksgiving by going to Jesus first.
This isn't easy. We overlook so much in our daily lives, and the majority of us, are quite spoiled with good things and great people. Most of us, hopefully, return to God when the big blessings come, but how often do we stop and turn to Him for the little blessings? For example...
Lord, I thank you for the computer on which I type. If not for this outlet, I would feel isolated and much of the ministry I hope to accomplish would be impossible. Even when it bogs down or sends me incomprehensible error messages, Lord, I know that it is a gift not all have.
The ability to email my friends and family who are thousands of miles away, the beauty of sharing conversations about faith with strangers, the opportunity to use the information available on the Internet to deepen my spiritual life and help me be a better wife and mother are all invaluable to me. A large part of my life would be lost without it. Often I think life would be much simpler; it would be forced to be so, but still I am grateful for this gift as long as it lasts.
Now, you try. What is something for which I don't ordinarily thank God? Peaceful moments while ironing? My children's need for guidance and discipline, resulting in my own personal growth? The noise than signals to all visitors (and sometimes neighbors) that joyful children live in my home? The joy they take in smearing jelly or glue or whatever all over the table, floor, walls, themselves, and yelling, "Look, Mom!"? The friend who, it seems, is in constant need of my love and attention? The condition that requires continuing medical attention and reminds me of my own mortality?
Am I the one leper who returns to Jesus after his healing and praises Him? When good things happen, do I rejoice with God or just with my family and friends? Do I acknowledge the Lord's hand in my life, in my existence? Do I note that if He chose, I could simply stop being?
We are in God's hands, whether we acknowledge it or not. He gives us countless opportunities on a daily basis to grow closer to Him. Do we take those moments to praise Him, to return to Him after every moment of healing or blessing?
Today, I will praise God for the unexpected, the character-building, and the silly, childlike moments in my day!