Summary: One of the reasons we have a hard time being thankful is that we are focused on our own needs.
“The Thanksgiving Struggle”
November 18, 2007
Me: I have begun reading a book called, “The Royal Way of the Cross” by Francois Fenelon. Fenelon is best known for writing about how we love ourselves more than we love God and how we need to learn selfless love and not selfish love. Out of some of this reading and my own prayer time came the following journal entry this week.
“Lord, I confess that I am a narcissist. I am so self-absorbed and so self-involved that I cannot get beyond my own desires and my own passions. I am driven almost by the temptations around me and the pursuit of the things that are destructive in my life. I am fully aware that my own heart and soul are conflicted so often because I am unable or unwilling to let go of my self-love and take on your self-less love.”
Doesn’t that encourage you?
You: Have you ever struggled to give thanks to God? Do you have a hard time really getting into the idea and concept of thanksgiving?
God: Today we are going to look at a passage of scripture that reflects not only our personal struggles, but the struggle of mankind for all of history.
“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, their leprosy disappeared. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, "Praise God, I’m healed!" He fell face down on 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? Does only this foreigner return to give glory to God?" And Jesus said to the man, "Stand up and go. Your faith has made you well." Luke 17:11-19 (New Living Translation)
Thanksgiving arises out of our need.
Here’s what I mean: We are thankful to God when a need we have is met. We appreciate warmth when we have been cold. We appreciate sunshine when it has been raining. We appreciate food when we have been hungry.
Very often our lives revolve around having some type of need met in our life. This is exactly what is happening in this passage. These ten lepers had a need that they hoped Jesus could meet.
Notice that they never asked him to heal them. They only asked for mercy. Why?
Leprosy in that culture was the worst of all kinds of illness. No one wanted to be around the disease. If you had it you were forced to live in a separate community outside the village. You were completely cut-off from anyone who might show you compassion.
Often we are caught up in our own desire to have our needs met that we may miss the needs of others.
Last week a friend of mine was sharing with me about how her neighbors were having wild party late at night. About 2:30 in the morning someone was outside talking loudly on their phone and someone else was vomiting in their side yard.
Her reaction was exactly what mine would have been and has been in the past in the exact same situation.
But what if we look at the deeper level? What if we see people trying to numb themselves from life for a while? What if we recognize a distress call for relationship and purpose in life?
A key to overcoming our own selfish nature is to focus on the needs of others.
God’s desire for us is to live in connectedness with him and others. As we seek to do that, we begin to recognize God at deeper levels and experience him through the shared desire to love others.
God’s love flows out of his compassion for mankind.
This passage is interesting in that these men simply call out to Jesus. They have no conversation with him. They have no connection with him. They simply call out to him as Master.
But Jesus apparently had compassion on them. When he saw their need, he had a desire to do something about it.
Do we have that kind of compassion for others? Are we moved to action because of the need that surrounds us?
Jesus sent these men to the priests to show that they had been healed. This was the common Jewish practice for anyone who had been healed of any disease or injury. By doing this you were restored to being ceremonially clean.
As they went to the priests they were cleansed. This no doubt caused great joy. Can you imagine if you had a dreaded disease that not only ate away at your body but also caused you to be cast away from everyone else and suddenly you were healed? How would you feel?