I keep a box of blank thank you notes in my desk to use whenever it seems appropriate. It has been well over a year since I used any. It’s not for lack of opportunities rather a lack of follow through on my part. I think about the people who should get a thank you note from me. Those that are reading this post are certainly on that list. In reflection there are many that I may never see again, such as; The youth pastor that gave me godly counsel. The preacher that challenged me as a young man. Then there were so many that shaped me through their influence.
I was recently reminded of the fact that many blessings are missed because of ingratitude. See a few years back an elderly neighbor passed away leaving behind a frail wife. One day my wife asked if there was anything we could do to help her. Her response was that she wanted the shrubs and yard cut back so she could see out her windows. Because of the overgrown vegetation she had not seen outside her window in many years. That coupled with few visitors made her feel isolated and lonely. It became a driven hobby for my wife to get the yard in shape. Other neighbors pitched in as well and over the course of a couple of years the overgrown half-acre lot has progressively improved. A small mountain of various debris was disposed of. Three large dead trees were cut down along with many rogue mulberry trees from the fence line. Overgrown shrubbery was removed and some new flowers were planted. One neighbor even mowed the yard on a weekly basis. In addition to yard work, people would take the widow to the grocery store and pharmacy as needed. Untold amount of volunteer hours were spent to help someone that could only pay with a thankful attitude.
One day the widow had a stroke. The damage has placed her in a permanent care facility. We did not know where she was until her son was at her house to prepare it for sale. Intending to help, I told him of how several people had been helping the last couple of years. The response was a bitter and vulgar “well there’s a lot more to be done and I have a full-time job” and then proceeded to critically point out everything left undone. It was shocking that he didn’t say something like that is appreciated but I still have a lot more to do. He’ll never know the blessing missed because of an unthankful heart.
When we first visited the widow in her new home she could not recall our names. That didn’t matter because her smile and calling us her friends was a great salutation. She has a grateful heart and that makes a difference.
I had another reminder of gratitude from the story of ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. The lepers in this story were completely healed without any payment. Not a blemish. Feeling in their bodies returned. Limbs restored. A complete restoration. It is easy to imagine their surprise and great joy. Maybe they shouted loudly CLEAN, CLEAN! I wonder what they thought as they hurried to show themselves to the priest. But one stopped, turned around, and ran to Jesus. This was a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans did not like each other. Can you imagine what life was like for this man? He was already rejected by the Jews and a leper as well. Yet as he approached Jesus he shouted “PRAISE GOD!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. 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.”
We will never know in this lifetime what became of that one thankful man that Jesus healed. We do not know his name. And yet this man stands as a reminder that Jesus does not ask us for praise….He expects it and is surprised when the healed and restored do not give it. It is worth remembering that the consistent practice of thanks, gratitude and celebration are key to the unlimited blessings that God has in store for you. Take the time to thank God today. Also remember to thank others as you go through life.
Thanks for reading!
Rev. Burt Schwab