Psalm 66:1-7 Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5 Among the dead, no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
A white dog walks into a butcher shop, and in his mouth, he is carrying a purse. He puts the purse down and sits in front of the meat counter.
“What is it, boy?” the butcher jokingly asks. “Want to buy some meat?” “Woof!” barks the dog. “Hmm,” says the butcher. “What kind? Liver, bacon, steak …” “Woof!” interrupts the dog. “And how much steak? Half a pound, one pound …” “Woof!” The amazed butcher wraps up the meat and finds the money in the dog’s purse.
As the dog leaves, the butcher decides to follow. The dog enters an apartment house, climbs to the third floor, and begins scratching at a door. The door swings open, and an angry man starts shouting at the dog. “Stop!” yells the butcher. “He’s the most intelligent animal I’ve ever seen!” “Intelligent?” says the man. “This is the third time he’s forgotten his key this week.” He was not thankful.
Contrast that to the story of Jed who worked in London. Every morning, he encountered a bedraggled, middle‑aged woman asking for spare change in front of a shop. She greeted everyone with a smile and a pleasant “Good morning.” Jed always gave her a little something.
After a while, the woman disappeared, and Jed wondered what had happened to her. Then, one rainy day, the woman was in front of the shop again, still looking the same. As Jed reached into his wallet for the regular donation, the woman refused the money and said “Thank you for helping me all those days,” she said. “You won’t see me again because I’ve got a job.” Then she slowly reached into a bag and handed Jed a wrapped package. She had been standing at her old spot waiting, not for a handout, but for all the people she recognized so that she could give each of them a wrapped brownie she had made. She was thankful.
Letter to those exiles (taken as slaves to a Foreign Land) in awful circumstances
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have children; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so they too may have children. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city where I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
The lesson for us here is to be thankful even in difficult circumstances. This kind of thankfulness is faith.
I think the story of the Ten lepers is crucial for us, and if we read the story too quickly, we miss vital truths. So slow it down, and picture it with me.
We start with ten men who have the worst disease of their day. The physical ramifications are horrendous. Leprosy attacks the body, leaving sores, missing fingers, missing toes, and damaged limbs.
In many cases, the initial pain of leprosy gives way to something more terrible than that – a loss of sensation in nerve endings, leading to more damage to more body parts. The disease can take 30 years to run its course; in that period, entire limbs can simply fall off. It is, assuredly, a most horrible disease. It is impossible to understand what it was like 2,000 years ago when medical treatment as we know it today was almost non-existent.
In her book Jesus the One and Only,
It’s hard to imagine the emotional pain of a leper. I should imagine it must have been even worse than the physical pain. As a result, the leper was removed from their family and community – everyone!
It must be heart-wrenching when there could be no contact whatsoever with any non-leperous person.
The leper is wholly removed from family and society for fear that they, too, would become afflicted.
Lepers tended to roam together, looking for food and begging for assistance with a loud voice from a great distance. It must have been horrible for them.
And yet, in this account, ten men encounter Jesus and hear him say the most unusual thing. “We want to be well!” they scream at Jesus. And the great teacher responds, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.”
The local priest had duties other than leading worship on each Sabbath. He was also a health official, and if a person was miraculously healed of leprosy, it was the priest’s job to inspect the body, test for complete removal of the disease, and announce the person healed.
If the person were pronounced clean, they were cleansed, and after, it would be fine for the leper to see his wife again, hold his daughter again, and look for work again. If the priest gave him the OK, he would be considered healed!
Jesus says to these lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
They look down at their bodies. The hands of one man are still mangled. Another man looks at his leg, which ends with a filthy rag at the knee. Another looks at his skin and finds it as repulsive as ever.
In other words, all these men were no better off than they had been ten minutes earlier when they had first spotted the famous teacher.
And yet, they headed off in search of the priests. And on their way, they were healed. So we can imagine that as they were On their way to the priests, a hand emerged from a stump and tingled with life. A crutch suddenly falls to the ground, and the leg was back, healthy, whole, and complete.
The skin cleared, and the tiny hairs on their forearm turned from snow-white to brown. One looked at the other, another looked at the rest, and the screaming started. Then, the smiles broke into tears of joy – the nightmare was finally over.
But for the miracle to happen, these men had to start walking in faith before their circumstances changed one tiny bit.
Is there a more powerful lesson for us here?
- You cannot wait to start walking in faith until your problems are over.
- You cannot put conditions on the holy God. You cannot say, “Lord, as soon as there’s enough money, I follow your instructions.”
You cannot pray, “Lord, if you’ll just solve this issue in my family, I’ll start to church.” You cannot put conditions on God!
Instead, God places a demand for faith on us before anything at all has changed.
God might say, “Love me despite the disease. Obey me despite the lack of talent or the lack of resources. Follow me now, despite the depression and pain. Say no to the temptation while it still is difficult. Instead, praise me in the darkest of nights and in the worst of circumstances.”
This is the nature of God, who loves you so much; he will want you to be thankful when nothing about your circumstances gives you that motivation.
My friends, that are the very definition of faith. If you praise God only on the good days and in the best of circumstances, it would not be faith. That would be more like a business arrangement!
Some of you are in horrible circumstances right now. Will you be thankful despite the difficult circumstances? If so, you will be living by faith.
This week, be sure to acknowledge God for his goodness.
Be sure to be thankful.
Be sure to gather everyone up for a prayer of Thanksgiving that is a real prayer of thankfulness.
Do not miss the opportunity to serve and worship God this week.
Great was your sacrifice to go before us and bring forgiveness and hope.
By your stripes, we ask for healing. Standing within your reign and rule, we ask for restoration.
My life and wellness grow in fullness until it overflows.
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Paula Rose Parish💕
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