Barb and I support a wonderful missionary couple, Brian and Christy Lewis, who work with Wycliffe International in southeast Asia. Recently, the Lewis family has wrestled with illness and death. Christi wrote me about the lessons she’s learning about being thankful. I pray that her words will bless you, as they did me.
I’ve been reading this book … One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It was given to me awhile back but I wasn’t super interested and let it sit until a few weeks ago. Anyway, it’s about living a life full of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving. I know it’s a good thing. But why exactly would someone write a whole book about this?
I’m finding out, and I have to admit though that it is changing me.
On page 38, Ann writes about Luke 17 when Jesus healed the 10 lepers. But only one comes back to thank him. Jesus asks the guy … “were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Then he says to the guy, “Rise and go; your faith has made your well.”
It is a little strange. After all, weren’t they already cleansed? So why was Jesus now says that the guy’s faith has made him well?
In one translation, it even says that “thy faith has saved thee”. SAVED THEE?
The word in the Greek is “sozo,” which means “to save” or many translations also render it as being made “well” or “whole”. Still, strange … Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full and as Ann points out, the leper received “sozo” ONLY when he returned and gave thanks.
OK, so I read on and am even more convinced that Ann is on to something here. So I decide to take her challenge.
She challenges me in the book to write 1000 things I am thankful for. Believe me, it is not an easy task. My goal (and the boys are doing it with me) has been to write 10 things a day.
And really, this can actually change your habits after awhile.
I have found that I tend to get stuck on the difficulties of life. The unfairness of it all, the struggles with sickness and popularity contests, etc.
Giving thanks is helping to change that for me, and what better time to hear this lesson than right before the big Thanksgiving Day!
So you know how God teaches often by repetition? At least that is what I find in my life. He sends repetition and confirmation through other situations and people around you.
Well, I was meeting with (a) friend last week. (She) lost her husband in a terrible plane crash several weeks ago. We sat down for lunch and before I could share about what God was teaching me, I asked her how she is doing. Really doing.
As she talked, she begins to explain that God has spoken to her about giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). She recounted a time in the past when she had felt enveloped with the sorrows that were on her heart and when she began to give thanks despite the terrible circumstances, the darkness began to lift. And such was the situation now. It was a battle, but she was determined to obey God and find a way to give thanks although her life seem so void of meaning and fun times at the moment.
My face lit up as I thought about Ann Voskamp’s “sozo” discovery and the leper that chose to return and give thanks. It seems that (my friend) was finding a type of “sozo” in her Thanksgiving as well.
We went on a discussed Romans 1:21 (discussing the fall of man and God’s wrath) … “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Another eye opener! God was angry not only because they didn’t glorify him as God, but also because they failed to give thanks!!! No wonder he gave them over to their foolishness! No thankfulness, no God-seeking … no “sozo.”
So, that is where I am at today. Still working on retraining my brain to automatically turn to thanksgiving in ALL circumstances.
If (my friend) can do it and can be lifted from her despair, I can do it.
And on that note, Happy Thanksgiving my friends!!!
Seriously, don’t just say it … do it.
Christi, you’re wise beyond your years. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!