“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.”
–Luke 17:11-19 (NLT)
I was quite saddened when I looked up stories about giving thanks, since 99% of them were about Turkey Day. So I have written this blog entry in the middle of the year, on purpose. No matter what situation this finds you in, all of us need to allow God to continually shape and mold our hearts so that thanksgiving becomes a daily experience, rather than just a yearly holiday.
Since each of us are faced with various needs and/or challenges while going through the journey of life, we can relate to the people in our story. Sometimes our greatest challenges turn out to be our biggest blessings, and they may leave us with our mouths hanging open. But looking for them can be a challenge in itself. Sometimes we know the reason for our trials, and sometimes we don’t.
So you might be asking, “How do you have the audacity to pretend you know what I’m going through, Tim?”
In fact, I don’t know a thing about your situation. For all I know, you might be a single parent who’s about to get kicked out of your apartment, or you may be facing a terminal illness.
But you can take great comfort in the fact that God knows. Instead of just preaching to you, though, let me tell you how God has been both my solace and my strength.
Have you ever seen a blind guy trying to play football? That might have been me. I wasn’t a Christian back then, and I thought I had to prove myself to the world. But to my disappointment, instead of being Super Blind Man, I turned out to be Super Blind Dud, able to break phone booths with a single bound. (Cell phones? Stone-age!)
But the most important time in my life came a few years later. Like the lepers portrayed in our opening scripture, I called on the Lord. For the first time, I discovered what it really meant to see, as God continued to open my spiritual eyes. He’s still working on me to this very day.
Oh, don’t think I’m being clicheic here. I’m telling you the truth. Let me give you a down-to-earth example of this which I hope will make everything clear.
You and I are walking through a crowded building, and since you can see, I’m holding onto your arm. (Just a note: If you’ve always dreamed of becoming a tour guide, here’s your chance!) Anyway, we’re good friends, having a deep discussion as we walk along.
You stop for a moment, and I figure we’re at our destination, so I let go of your arm. But I don’t know that there are obstacles in my way, and as I continue walking, I crash into the wall.
You are unfazed, but a bystander with a violin has seen the whole thing. Rushing up, he gasps, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I answer. “But how’s the wall?”
Now, let me ask you a question. When you run into life’s walls, what’s your reaction?
You see, there are two facts that we need to ponder before proceeding any further. First, just as I am dependent on my friend’s arm, we all depend upon God’s arm, whether we acknowledge it or not. When Jesus was talking to His disciples, He made it clear that we cannot accomplish a thing without Him.
Secondly, have you ever given real thought to the fact that we’re all blind? We can’t see God’s hand in a certain situation, so we let go of His strong arm. Then we complain and blame Him because the wall we run into has no padding.
We often have the wrong concept of God. We think of Him in ways that are foreign to the scriptures, and we may see Him as being in task-master mode. Ready to strike, we may picture Him saying, “It’s either my way or the highway!”
But nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible paits a picture of a God who is not detached, but concerned with the needs of the poor and destitute.
I have told you how important it is to have a physical arm to grab onto, but now I want to talk about you, and the need for each of us to take ahold of God’s arm. In the Bible, the arm of God is a symbol of strength, power, and protection. Therefore, when He guides us around an obstacle in our path, it is because our loving God is looking out for our best interests. Unlike us, He can see around the corners of life, and He wants to walk through each joy and every trial with us.
That is why we can be thankful, even when there seem to be some bumps in the road. We need to remind ourselves that God is in control, even when your circumstances appear dark. By meditating on scriptures such as, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), and by talking to Him throughout the day, we can come to know Him more and more intimately. One of His best characteristics is joy, and His joy can become a part of us.
So if you are tired of running into walls, why not grab ahold of God’s arm? Besides talking to Him and meditating on scripture, you can draw closer to God by adopting a lifestyle of thanksgiving. Ask Him to help you cultivate this attitude, and give you the desire to be thankful for all things.
This is a skill in itself, and like playing a musical instrument, it’s something all of us need to practice. Just remember that before becoming an art, thanksgiving must first be in your heart.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 6:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.