The Bible has the story of 10 men who came to Jesus with a disease and asked for healing. (It’s in Luke 17 if you want to check it out.) All 10 men were likely living together somewhere since the disease they had was thought to be transmitted from person to person and so they were thrown out of society and had to social distance from people without the disease.
Their disease had significant knock on effects. Like people with Covid 19 they were forced to be separated from loved ones. Their prognosis was all downhill. They couldn’t work and in their society with no social welfare, they couldn’t eat unless some passers by gave them food or money. Their future held no hope. They would understand the progress of the disease would mean they would die a lonely death – probably from hunger or leprosy. So they were desperate!
So they came and asked for healing. They apparently stood at a distance and called out to Jesus in a loud voice. The bible says Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest. In that day the priests were the gatekeepers of society. They examined someone with leprosy who thought they were better to determine if they were still showing signs of the disease or if they could return to society. So this instruction would be understood by the men to be a message that they could be healed. Not surprisingly all 10 headed off to the priest. The bible says they were healed “as they went”. So they had to do something to show they trusted this strange preacher before the healing came – but it did come.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (NIV)
Now the point I want to make from this story is that to build a great life you must learn to be thankful. Only 1 in 10 in this story were thankful enough to turn around and thank the person through whom the healing came so I suspect not many of you will take this advice. But I believe this is a big step to help us stay on an even keel. It seems to me we are bombarded with negativity every day. The papers are full of it and we hear negative stories every day on the news broadcasts.
Of course, other countries have a thanksgiving holiday every year. The United States, Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia celebrate in late November. The Koreans celebrate in the first week of October. We Australians don’t celebrate this holiday – except for Norfolk Island. So I think we are the losers. I think we ought to make a time every year, or month, or week to be thankful. Thanksgiving helps us understand what a great place we live in. I know not everything is great but surely the fact that we have a world class medical system, we have social welfare for the unemployed, the elderly, our children, and the disabled and that gives us every reason to be thankful.
Curiously thanksgiving requires two thing – thanks and giving. We saw this particularly in Korea when we visited there just before their Thanksgiving holiday. The Koreans we know are very generous people anyway. They love to give gifts to their visitors. But some people in Korea we met for the first time gave us a huge box of candy. Another gave us a tea pot and cups. One woman, the sister of someone we knew, gave my wife a handbag and gave me a jumper. They are a generous people. So much so, the two rock melons in the picture at the top were priced at 70,000 Korean Won which is about $AU85. I seems what’s happened is that the giving part of the holiday means the price of things goes up at that time of the year!
So why don’t you sit down and write down a list of the things you are thankful for in your life. The reality is all the things you have were given to you in some way or another. Even those who think they are self made men aren’t. You were given abilities that you’ve developed or opportunities you took to become the “self made man” you are. But you could have been given a completely different set of abilities in the first place or different circumstances and you would never become what you are. So sit down and write a list of the blessings you have on your life. Then find someone and give them a gift – for no reason. You will find that will help you feel good about the place you live, the family you have and the fact that you have enough to be a blessing to someone else. We all need something to balance the negativity all around us.