Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:11-19)
Giving thanks. Hard sometimes, isn’t it? In our congregation we sometimes use a refrain that Peder Eide started. Someone says, “God is good.” And the congregation completes the sentence, “All the time!” Then someone says, “All the time,” and the congregation finishes, “God is good!”
Peder Eide didn’t create the refrain out of some “happy clappy” Christianity. He has known pain and suffering. Up close and personal. And he has known the faithfulness of God to provide and sustain. Peder’s mother died in a car accident when Peder was only 14 years old, and then his father died a few years later in a house fire. Peder has learned the preciousness of having a family to love. “God is good, all the time!” means a lot more coming from someone I know has experienced the pain, sorrow, and darkness of life, than it would coming from someone who lives a comfortable and privileged life.
“Was none of them found to return and give praise to God…?”
A member of a congregation I served taught me about gratitude journals. She kept her gratitude journal on the headboard of her bed. Each evening, at the close of the day, she would reflect and list five things for which she was grateful. She insisted on five. She said one, two, and three were generally pretty easy. But four and five stretched her. When she had completed her list each day, she could feel her heart turn to give thanks to God. In recognizing five things in her day for which she could give thanks, she could not help but recognize God’s hand of blessing in her life.
She kept her gratitude journals for years. Then one day her husband was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. He needed surgery, chemo, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant. After his grim initial diagnosis, he turned to his wife and said with sincerity, “Tell me about your gratitude journal.” He started one that day, and it was the one constant in his suitcase as they traveled many miles to the medical facility in another city where he received his care, and then to the cabin where he stayed in isolation when he was immunosuppressed.
The staff was impressed with his incredibly positive outlook. He told them about his gratitude journal, and with it the recognition of God’s abundant blessings in his life… even then.
Gratitude journals are how I teach people to pray who have never spent much time in prayer. More than one person has told me, “Pastor, all my life people have been telling me to pray, but no one has ever told me how before!” Gratitude.
Meister Eckhart, a 13th century monk and mystic, wrote, “If in your lifetime the only prayer you uttered was thanks, it would be enough.”
Eric Burtness suggests for today: Name five things for which you are grateful. How might you make gratitude to God a bigger part of your daily life? Consider using a journal to list the blessings you notice each day. If there are others in your household, you might give thanks to God together before meals or at the end of the day.*
Gracious and giving God, in my busy life I sometimes forget to stop and thank you for all that you have given me. Today I thank you for (name as many things as you wish.) And I thank you above all for your unconditional and eternal love. Amen.*
* “Material from Book of Faith Lenten Journey: Beyond Question by Erick Burtness copyright © Augsburg Fortress. Posted by permission. All rights reserved.”