As I think about this time we continue to navigate and work through, the word perseverance comes to mind. One day, one week, one month at a time. But what sustains in times of prolonged endurance? I have found gratitude to be one of those key things. When we continually think of our circumstance as something we must endure, it can be very tiring – exhausting even. But when thinking of the things we are able to do in and because of our circumstance, our minds start to relax, our shoulders do not feel as tight and burdened, and we sit in the “get to”s rather than “have to”s.
In times of difficulty, a key way to combat anxiety is through a gratitude exercise. Name one or a few things you can be grateful for today. In this process, it is possible to sit, pause, and reflect; just the thing that is needed when anxious and heavy-ladened. I like to think of the “attitude of gratitude” to be an umbrella in the storm; it’s able to shelter us when we need it the most.
In the Bible, there are a few accounts we can see where Jesus takes note of a grateful heart. In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus comes across ten lepers. In our current day and age, leprosy is a very treatable condition but in Jesus’ time, there was no cure and people were exiled to live in colonies of infected people. In the passage, Jesus meets ten lepers at a distance (you can be sure they were standing more than 6 feet apart) and they asked Him to heal them. The lepers are told to show themselves to the priests and they were healed as they went. Only one, as he noticed he was healed, returned to Jesus and thanked him. The one who was healed was a Samaritan, a foreigner in the land of the Jews, and he was commended for his heart that desired to thank God for what He had done. Being a Samaritan, this was even more unusual for him to praise God.
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
- Luke 17:11-19
Ten were healed and only one returned. In this passage, we see the importance of a heart of gratitude. For this next week, how can you stop, turn, and praise God for something he has done?
- Pause: take time to do an inventory of the things that have happened in the past week.
- Turn: take a look at the good and even the bad and reflect.
- Bring it to the Lord: Whether good or bad, praise God for the ways He has sustained you in the difficulty and rejoice in the ways He has blessed.
Let our grateful hearts overflow and be a shield around us as we go into this next week!