Some time ago I ran across a statement that is worth pondering. It went like this: “The greatest blessing lacking in life is the willingness to see our blessings.” To my mind, this is something to mull over, not only because it is the thanksgiving season but because this is a true reality.
Perhaps this is the point of Jesus traveling through Samaria, when a group of lepers call out to him for help. These lepers desperately desire to be healed. Rather than healing them immediately, however, Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests, according to the law. And as they act on Jesus’ word, suddenly they find themselves cleansed. But only one of them, a lowly Samaritan, turns back to praise God and to give Jesus thanks.
Now, Jesus commends the Samaritan but at the same time reminds us of the tragedy of overlooking our blessings. Jesus says, “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?” (Luke17:17,18). Jesus has healed 10 lepers but only one has returned to give thanks.
I reiterate, “The greatest blessing lacking in life is the willingness to see our blessings.” For this article, let’s focus on the tragedy of this reality.
First, the unwillingness to see our blessings robs the world of something joyous and good! Be sure that this article is no attempt to make us feel guilty. Rather, it is an attempt to make us more aware of our blessings. The reason is that if we are more aware of our blessings we will bring greater joy and good to this desperate and divided world of ours.
A man had completed his transactions at the bank, so the teller said, “Have a good day.” To which the man grumbled, “I've already made alternate plans.” Seriously, have you noticed that the world in which we live is full of complaints? Have you noticed the continuing sourness and negativism that dominates so much of daily life?
Just think how much better this old world would have been if all 10 of those lepers had been willing to see their blessings. And then think how much better this world would be today. Simply stated, there is a tremendous power to be found in the exercise of gratitude. There is power, not only to cheer the world, but to encourage it, to soften it and regenerate the people who live therein.
Second, the unwillingness to see our blessings robs us of the joy of release! The late Dr. John Claypool, outstanding minister, author and professor, stated that gratitude more than anything else is the difference between “just making the best of life and making the most of it.” How true!
Years ago I flew with 18 others to the Republic of Panama on a preaching mission. I was young and somewhat nervous about flying over the ocean. Evidently my neighbor, a minister who was a bit older and sitting in the next seat, was aware of my anxiety. He jokingly asked, “What are you worried about?” I answered, “Oh, nothing really, just thinking about that ocean down below.” He responded, “I'm grateful to be here. Had a heart attack not long ago and wasn’t sure whether I would even be able to make it.” In that minister’s gratitude and my own, I soon overcame my anxiety.
How did Paul put it? He said, “Have no anxiety about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). “With thanksgiving” - here Paul is telling us of the tremendous power of personal release to be found in the exercise of gratitude.
Third, the unwillingness to see our blessings robs God of his rightful praise! How often have we heard it, sung it or said it! “Bless this house!” “Bless this nation!” “Bless this mess!” “Bless you!” “Bless us!” But the psalmist in his superior experience wisdom said, “Bless the Lord …” “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord l, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103: 1,2).
Someone has stated that God has two dwelling places. One is in heaven, and the other is in a thankful heart. So what does God really want from us? He doesn’t want merely hymn singing, although that is fine. Nor does he want only prayer, although that is fine, too. What God wants from us is a thankful heart.
A few years ago I attended a banquet where a friend was being honored. A couple of other people were also being honored. One of the other honorees was from Pakistan. He had made it big in business in this country. His business was listed in the “Fortune 500” list. I jotted down his final remarks. He said, “This is a great country. I truly believe there is a God up there who is blessing us all.”
So do I! God is not only up there but down here as well blessing us all. Thanks be to God!
Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries.