Monday, December 03, 2007

Did You Remember to Say Thank You?

Luk 17:11-19 (CEV)

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus went along the border between Samaria and Galilee.

As he was going into a village, ten men with leprosy came toward him. They stood at a distance

and shouted, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

Jesus looked at them and said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." On their way they were healed.

When one of them discovered that he was healed, he came back, shouting praises to God.

He bowed down at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was from the country of Samaria.

Jesus asked, "Weren't ten men healed? Where are the other nine?

Why was this foreigner the only one who came back to thank God?"

Then Jesus told the man, "You may get up and go. Your faith has made you well."

Do you remember to say thank you to God when He blesses you? How about when He heals you of a sickness? What about when you get a new job or a raise or a promotion?

People are interesting. We'll want something for a long time- we've thought about it since the time we were a child, have vivid dreams about what we'll do once we get it and are impatient for it to show up in our lives. For example, you might want to get married. And you may have prayed diligently to God to send that perfect mate your way. You fasted, you prayed, you had other people pray for you and you waited. Finally, that man or woman arrives in your life! You date, get married, have a couple of kids and then you get bored. Or you get tired of the married life. Or you get tired of all the fights. Or you decide you didn't spend enough time dating. You go from thanking God for bringing your husband or wife into your life to asking for deliverance from your marital problems.

So you pray and fast about it. And you ask others to pray for you. And you wait. Until your spouse becomes incrementally better - where he wouldn't talk to you before, you two finally have a conversation. Where she wouldn't cook before, she finally tries her hand at a pot roast. Whatever the case is, things gradually get better. So gradually, that you fail to recognize - five or ten years down the line - that God answered your prayers. You were delivered from the difficulty you encountered earlier in your marriage. You two get along better than ever and you have become more mature and spiritually aware along the way. Did you remember to say thank you? Probably not.

People are interesting. We will wait for something for a long time. So long, in fact, that when it finally comes, we forget to say thank you. Half of gratitude is realizing what we have to be grateful for. If you have selective amnesia and can only recall bad things, you can't fully appreciate how far God has brought you. We forget the long days and nights we spent praying or fasting about something. We forget all the late night calls to our friends to pray for us. We forget being the first one in line at the church altar for weekly, daily or even hourly prayer.

Why do we forget? It's usually because of this: When things finally work out for us (and they usually do), the answer either comes in a form we don't expect or it takes more time than we expect it to. When one or both of those things happen, we fail to recognize the significance of what we are seeing. We don't see that we have been healed. We don't see that we received the answer to our prayers. If you asked for financial prosperity and it took you 10 years to land the job you really wanted, all you can see are the bills, the pain in the neck your co-workers are and how much your boss gets on your nerves. You've failed to see the blessings that God has brought into your life. You've failed to see that you received exactly what you asked God for. Then, you forget to thank Him.

I'm not saying your life is perfect. I'm not saying there isn't room for improvement. I'm not suggesting you have the perfect husband or wife, the job you want or the car you feel entitled to have. But I am saying that if you are a child of God, He has brought many blessings to your life. He has given you much of what you asked for, even if it didn't happen the way you thought it should have or when you thought it should have. You should spend more time thanking God for what He has already given you than focused on what you still want. After all, if He's given you so much already, why wouldn't He be willing to give you more?

What have you forgotten to say thank you to God for today?