In our world, we don’t have to look very far to find someone who is suffering. In visiting with a brother this week who is battling cancer, we discussed how such is so challenging for two major reasons: 1) First, when you’re used to being active, it’s so very difficult to have to adjust to sitting at home. 2) Also, it’s not easy being the center of attention. Most of us, I’m guessing, would rather be praying for someone else as opposed to having others pray for us.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ brief encounter with some lepers in Luke 17. It would have been awful to have been a leper, especially in that day. The Greek word denotes “scaly.” At that time there was no known cure. I understand that Jewish law had no provision for cleansing a leper, only the ability to declare someone clean who has been suspected of such. A leper was forced from public life. The Law stated, “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” (Lev. 13:45-46) From a societal perspective, to be a leper was to be looked upon as a dead person. It was essentially a death sentence.
Interestingly, there were occasions in which the Lord’s path crossed with those suffering from such. One of the most memorable is found in Luke 17:
- On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (vv. 11-19)
As I reflect upon both this text and the Lord’s response there are three things that come to my mind. First, I’m impressed with how blessed I am. My life is so different from that of a 1st-century leper and I’m certain yours is as well. To live in our time with a good measure of health, having freedom, prosperity, technology and a plethora of modern conveniences – how can I not see how God has lavished His blessings upon me? Second, there’s a powerful clue as to how the Lord views gratitude. It was after the one turned back and praised God that Jesus asked, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” It’s evident that the Lord expects you and me to be grateful. Third, a good indicator of a person’s spiritual pulse is found in their level of gratitude. One of the first signs, according to Scripture, of a drifting heart is ingratitude. Paul writes, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Ro.1:21) Notice, they did not honor God and they did not give thanks – two clear indicators of a heart that has drifted from God.
With you and I being among those who are SO blessed, we’d do well to take to heart the words of the apostle Paul, “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20)
Not only are you blessed, you are also loved!