In our day and time, it is easy to find something to complain about. These are trying days and many people are experiencing very challenging circumstances. As a pastor, I speak with people each week who are on the verge of giving up and throwing in the towel. They are battling illnesses, various heartaches, financial trouble, relationship stress, etc. On top of all of this, there is the ongoing challenge of COVID and the affect it is having on all of our lives. When you put it all together, it is very overwhelming.
I was reminded of a tremendous story in the Bible that has helped my perspective. It is found in Luke 17:11-19. In this story, we are introduced to ten lepers who need healing. One day, Jesus is passing through their area and when they saw Him, they cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” If you had leprosy in Jesus’ day, you were considered unclean and could not enter the temple or be touched by other people. The fact that Jesus told them to go to the priests meant that He was going to heal them.
The story says that “as they went, they were cleansed.” Try and get this picture in your mind. These lepers lived in isolation. They were shunned by society. They were viewed as unclean and outcasts. They lived lonely and troubled lives. No one knew what to do with them, and sadly, even the religious leaders avoided them. Jesus was different though. He loved the unlovable. He welcomed the outcast. He healed the afflicted. These lepers met Jesus and he told them to go to the priests. They took Jesus at His word and headed into town to present themselves at the temple. As they were going, something incredible happened. They were healed. In an instant, their leprosy was completely gone. Years of pain and suffering gone in a moment. Can you even imagine the feeling of joy, relief, gladness, and peace?
The story then takes a turn. The Scripture says, “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.” Only one did this. The others went on their way. Jesus said to the man, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except you?” Jesus looked at this man and added something that would change this man’s life forever. He said, “Rise and go your way, your faith has saved you.”
Think about the power of this story for a moment. Ten lepers all received the same physical healing, but only one returned to thank the One who gave them healing. Only one returned. The one who returned also got something greater. Jesus forgave him of his sin. He received spiritual healing on top of the physical healing. This man’s grateful spirit caused him to return to Jesus, and as a result, he received the greatest gift a person could ever receive, forgiveness of sin. What an incredible moment in this leper’s life.
There are many lessons we can learn from this story, but one lesson for certain is the importance of having gratitude toward God. It amazes me that only one returned to thank Jesus, but I wonder if I would have done that. Would I have been so glad about what I received that I would have forgotten to thank the One who gave it to me? I pray not, but fear so. The truth is, God has given us so much, and we have many things to be thankful for. Even on our worst day, there is always something for which to be grateful. If you are a Christian, even if all you experience is trial in this life, you are still forgiven of all your sin, have a relationship with God, and an eternal home in heaven. That alone is enough to provoke a grateful spirit every day. We should have a heart of gratitude like the leper.
Let me leave you with one final encouragement. My wife recently decided to begin using a phrase in the good and hard times of life. She says, “Christ be magnified.” When we get news that something is going well, we say, “Christ be magnified.” When we get news that something has not gone the way we could choose, we say, “Christ be magnified.” What we have discovered is that if we want a grateful spirit, we must have a heart of gratitude toward God, just like the leper. We must thank and trust God, leaving our very lives in His control. Oh that we would be like the leper, falling on our face before God and praising Him.
Jesus, the One who paid is all, is worth all our praise. These words encapsulate my heart today, “Lord, now indeed I find Thy power and Thine alone can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.” Amen and amen!