Did you know that November is National Gratitude Month? Stacey Grewal, in August of 2015, submitted the idea that November would be a month of being thankful. There are two holidays in this month that invite people to be thankful. On November 11, 1919, president Woodrow Wilson established one of those days after the World War I in memory of the soldiers who fought and died in the “war to end all wars.” It would be called Armistice Day. Armistice means an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce. Then, in 1926, Congress adopted a resolution requesting President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation making Armistice Day a legal holiday. It was not until 1954 that the holiday was changed to Veterans Day, recognizing all who have fought in wars. Of course, in November we also have Thanksgiving, a holiday established way back in 1789.
It is so important the be thankful. A study was done with nearly 300 adults, most college age, who were seeking mental health counseling. During their counseling, they were broken into three groups: one group were asked to write a letter of gratitude towards someone they knew each week, another to write down their negative emotions and thoughts, while the other group did neither. I will share with you some results in a moment. Before I do, let’s consider a scene in the bible that talks about being thankful.
There is a story found in Luke 17:11-19 about ten lepers who were healed. Here I think we can find where thankfulness is so important to our walks with Christ. The scene opens as Jesus is traveling through Samaria and Galilee (v11). He comes across ten men “who stood afar off” (v12) because they had leprosy. Isolated from the world around them because of their disease, they call out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (v13).
So when He saw them, He said to them,
“Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
It was “as they went” to show themselves to the priests they were healed. What a sign of faith! That said, we find some further information about these ten men in the next two verses. You see, one of them, when he realized he was healed, “returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks” (vv15-16). He came back to express gratitude in an impassioned manor. Then, it reveals who he was, a Samaritan. It is here that Jesus asks some rhetorical questions. It appears the other men must have been Jews, only finding commonality with the Samaritan because of their leprosy. All should have returned to “give glory to God” (v18) for what they had received. It wasn’t merely a healing, but a chance to become part of society again. To become normal if you will. They had so much to be grateful for because of what Jesus had done. Yet, because gratitude was not on their mind, they missed out on the best gift of all. Jesus told the Samaritan, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well” (v19). Although all showed their faith by heading towards the priests, only one’s faith, that was filled with gratitude, caused him to go to the source to say thank you. All were healed physically, but only one left spiritually revived.
A mind filled with gratitude is a wonderful thing. As Christians, we are called to “in everything give thanks” (1st Thessalonians 5:18) and to have our prayer life be filled “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6) “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1st Thessalonians 5:18). So, let me ask you something I recently asked myself, “Just how thankful am I to God?” How often do I praise Him for what He has done and is doing in my life? My faith should “know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
Why is gratitude so important to our walk with Christ? Let’s go back to those letters I mentioned earlier. Those intentionally writing “gratitude letters” tended to write a higher percentage of positive emotions and included “we” words. The thought is, being grateful “shift’s one’s attention away from toxic emotions.” Another thing realized is this, you have to be persistent. Gratitude needs to be a constant practice if it is going to have any lasting results. And it appears that such persistence results in better brain activity. Oh, how the marvelous transformation of God can help us in so many ways.
The Samaritan’s faith moved him to be filled with gratitude for what God had done for him. What has God done for you lately? I suspect you could list a multitude of things. Take the time to reflect and remind yourself of God’s goodness. Praise Him for those things. Do it often. I suspect that if you do, such faith will help to make you well also. You are blessed! Thank You Lord.