* i wrote this post in november 2009 for the refuge blog. last night at our house of refuge, my friend shared how gratitude helps her connect with God. it made me think of this blog post & how true it is–gratitude does heal. right now, i am in a terribly difficult season physically & emotionally (chronic pain wears you down); i can easily dwell on all the things that “aren’t” and slide down the slippery slope into despair. last night before i went to bed i tried to remember all the things that “are.” i slept better (well, flexeril helps, too).
* * * * *
november 2009: for the past few saturdays we have been focusing on the word “gratitude”. for some, i have heard that it stirs up bad feelings–“here we go with the guilt–yeah, no doubt i’m probably not thankful enough.” for others, it is a reminder of how easy it is to forget how much we have to be grateful for–that life, circumstances, and all kinds of other things can block us from noticing what is good, what we do have to be thankful for despite what’s hard.
personally, i like the focus on gratitude. i am not ashamed to say that i like the good ol’ cheesy alcoholics anonymous saying to cultivate “an attitude of gratitude.” i think there’s no downside to this principle. but i also fully recognize that it’s not always easy to do. let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t feel it. we can’t see what is, we can only see what isn’t. we can’t muster up a feeling that isn’t there.
still, regardless of the obstacles to gratitude, i think it does something powerful inside of us. gratitude heals.
karl facilitated a couple of saturdays ago & focused on this passage in the gospel of luke 17:11-19:
As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”
what he shared really struck me. first of all, only one out of ten thanked Jesus for their immediate and powerful healing. one out of ten. i think that’s telling. i have no idea what was going through the other leper’s minds, but i find it interesting that the one that went back to offer thanks was the “foreigner”, the “outcast”, the “less-than.” hmmm. something to ponder. i wonder if the others felt entitled to the healing? or maybe they just got busy and went home and meant to say thanks but forgot? i have no idea, but i do love that this one leper returned and offered his gratitude.
we will never know the ins and outs of what happened in that moment or what part of the leper’s heart Jesus saw, but karl pointed out an important thought: maybe, what Jesus meant when he said “your faith has healed you” is “your gratitude has healed you.” he was already healed when he went to Jesus, cleansed of the ravages of leprosy. but maybe, just maybe, the gratitude he held in his heart provided some healing power, too.
to me, the word “healing” can be interchanged with “transformation” or “change” or “shifts in our hearts.” i think when we are thankful, when we give thanks–either out loud or in the quiet places of our hearts–that something changes, transforms, shifts inside of us. it somehow heals.
it is so easy in the midst of dark, dark places to focus on what isn’t instead of what is. of all the things we don’t have instead of the things that we do. of all the things we wish were different. i am also keenly aware of people in the midst of horrible, ugly, seemingly unredeemable situations who somehow can find light & be thankful for it. i do think things are better for them.
i believe the scriptures help remind us of God’s heart for us, of a better way than we would conjure up on our own. i am not so sure that God needs our thanks. yeah, i am sure he appreciates it but really he’s probably okay without our strokes. i really think God calls us to thankfulness because somehow he knows it will change us, transform us, heal us.
and that’s God’s heart for us–healing, transformation, change, hope.
yeah, gratitude heals.