“Then Jesus said, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except for this foreigner?’” Luke 17:17-18
A former editor of mine, who still remains a dear friend (not always the case I might add, for editors can be notoriously obtuse, aggravating, and unreasonable), suggested I re-run this GraceWave. Seeing as I am on the road today, I will take his suggestion, as I ALWAYS faithfully and gratefully did.
Let me add this warning. This Wave is satirical. Whenever I write satiracally I risk being taken literally, and some readers wonder if I’ve lost my mind. While that’s not impossible, the following is meant to deride, humorously I hope, a trait that I and many others too often have. I hope it reminds us all NOT to skip Thanksgiving!
Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one returned to say thank you. This 9-1 ratio is both revealing and common. We all receive, but few of us express gratitude to God.
If that's the case, then I say let’s be honest. Let’s go ahead and skip Thanksgiving! We probably are anyway. Not the meal of course, but the soul-deep, thirsting for God, can’t-live-without-Him thanksgiving. I can think of three sure ways we can skip this kind of thanksgiving.
First, whine. I know whining sounds childish, but remember, we’re being honest. We’re good at complaining, and 90% of complaining grows in the fertile soil of whining.
Whine about the weather, or your job, or politics, or family. The latter is especially fruitful this time of year as we all have family issues. Of course, if you have family you have family issues. But yours are especially tough! Make sure you let people know. They want to hear.
Whining’s chief contribution is that it enables you to focus your problems entirely outside of yourself. That way, you can avoid the messy and uncomfortable business of taking responsibility for your attitudes and actions. This glorious self-pity invites others to join you in your pile of ashes and feel sorry for you.
Now thanksgiving is the polar opposite of self-pity and complaining, and it completely transforms your spirit. Some people profess thanksgiving in all circumstances, no matter how difficult. Don’t fall for that! I know it’s in the Bible, but it’s so unnatural that it must be impractical. Besides, Paul may have been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and eventually beheaded, but he never had to deal with your family. So go ahead and whine.
Second, keep God as an afterthought. I’m betting the other nine lepers were grateful. Who wouldn’t be? If your nose is no longer about to fall off, then of course you’re grateful! So what if only one actually came back to Jesus and said the words? Doesn’t God already know what we’re thinking? Isn’t that enough?
Follow the example of highly successful businessmen who were asked who or what they credit for their success. The results? Hard work – 99%. Intelligence and good sense – 97%. Higher IQ – 83%. Being the best in every situation – 62%. Luck – 32%. Do you see the point? God hasn’t cracked the top 5!
You have to believe deep down that it’s really all up to you. You have to embrace the illusion of control. Be certain that you can arrange all of life to suit you, and that if anyone or anything doesn’t cooperate then default to suggestion number 1: whine.
Third, ignore the “small blessings.” I’m sure if I had been healed of a terminal illness I would be thankful. I really think I would have been like the one leper. I mean, that’s a big miracle.
But I haven’t had any big miracles. I’m still losing my hair, I haven’t won the lottery ever, and Kentucky keeps getting out-rebounded on both ends of the court. A big miracle might change my mind, but until I see congress and the White House cooperate on anything meaningful I’m remaining disappointed and morose.
Someone told me that when I wake up in the morning I should be able to think of ten things right then that I’m thankful for. Things like having a loving spouse, a bed, a home, air conditioning, actually waking up, etc.
Rubbish! Those are little things that most everybody has. Of course, the fact that billions of people can’t match even my short list doesn’t mean I can’t take them for granted. After all, that’s the point. I have to ignore the “small miracles” in order to skip Thanksgiving.
Bottom line: let this coming Thursday be just another day. It’s really not that hard. 90% of us are well on our way.
Grace, (if it’s even real)
Dr. Terry Ellis
November 19, 2017