Apr 15 2013 - Luke 17:11-37 – Thankfulness and praise
Jesus healed ten lepers who had pleaded with him to have mercy on him, but only one returned to give him thanks. The one who previously stood at a distance ran right up to Jesus and fell at his feet in thankful worship. This incident is recorded by Luke to prompt us to continual thankfulness and praise. And we have so much for which to be thankful; we just need eyes to see it. Yet all too often we are so preoccupied with small woes that we fail to enjoy our very many real blessings and to acknowledge the one who pours them out upon us day by day.
In a striking passage in his book, Soul Survivor (pp. 46-47), Philip Yancey points out that we are surrounded daily by wonderful things for which we should praise God:
I have stood in the mist of Iguaçú Falls in Brazil as gorgeous tropical butterflies, winged bearers of abstract art, landed on my arms to lap up the moisture. I have crouched beside a bay in Alaska as a pod of feeding beluga whales made shiny crescents of silver in unison against the dark green water. I have sat under a baobab tree in Kenya as giraffes loped effortlessly under sunset clouds and a line of half a million wildebeest marched single file across the plain. Above the Arctic Circle, I have watched a herd of musk oxen gather in a circle like settlers' wagons to protect the mothers and their young (who, in winter-time, must adjust to a 130° F drop in temperature at birth). I have also sat in hot classrooms and listened to theology professors drone on about the defining qualities of the deity – omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc. Can the One who created this glorious world be reduced to such abstractions? Should we not start with the most obvious fact of existence, that whoever is responsible is a fierce and incomparable artist beside whom all human achievement and creativity dwindle as child's play?
We need eyes to see the wonder of the world God has given us and a sense of thankfulness for the life we possess. As Chesterton remarked, "The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank." Why not stop for a moment and write you’re your own list of things that you have seen that fill you with wonder and prompt you to praise God.
In this morning’s passage Jesus also speaks about the coming judgment. He reminds his listeners of God’s grace in rescuing Lot and his family from the city of Sodom. But, as fire fell from heaven upon the city and the family fled, Lot’s wife turned back and, we are told, was turned into a pillar of salt. Instead of being thankful she looked back with regret at the home and city life she believed she was losing. We are urged to “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). We have so much for which we should offer God thanks and praise, but particularly for the salvation we have received through Jesus Christ. Why continually look back with regret on the past when we have so much for which we ought to praise God now, and so much more still to come?
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like thee His praise should sing?
Heavenly Father, you pour out blessings upon me day-by-day: a world of beauty and abundance; blessings of family and friends. Lord Jesus Christ, you have had mercy upon me; you have rescued and healed me. Spirit of the living God, open my eyes to see the wonder of your goodness, generosity and love that I might be filled with a spirit of thanks and praise. I praise you now.