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Learning to Be Thankful

November 6, 2015

"Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, 'Jesus, Master, have pity on us!'

"When he saw them, he said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And as they went, they were cleansed.

"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus, feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well'" (Luke 17:11?19, NIV).*

I share this story because several years ago I had a reality-shifting conversation with an elderly gentlemen at a nursing home in Atlanta where I was working. I simply asked him how he was doing. From his wheelchair, he grabbed my arm, pulled me down to his level, looked me dead in the eyes, and after what seemed like an eternity (probably only five seconds or so), quietly but firmly responded, "I'm SUPER-DUPER! Any day above ground is a great day!"

I stood up, bid him goodbye, and went on the rest of my rounds for that day.

You might think, So what! What's the big deal? So he's a happy guy . . . But what you don't know is that he was blind, partially deaf, confined to a wheelchair because of his blindness, and he had really bad diabetes, which means he had lost both of his feet and legs to that horrible disease. On top of that, he had a bunch of numbers tattooed on one of his forearms—not because he dug skin art, but because he lived through the Jewish Holocaust of World War II and survived a Nazi death camp. This guy witnessed many of his family and friends die . . . and yet he could still find happiness and wonder in each day!

He would spend his days wheeling himself around his floor by the handrail on the wall and striking up cheerful conversations with anybody and everybody with whom he came into contact. This guy was the unofficial nursing home ambassador and brightened everybody?s days—including mine.

But here was the thing that blew me away: he (like the one leper who came back to thank Jesus) wasn't even a Jesus follower . . . he wasn't a Christian!

He knew there was a God and recognized that He created everything and that He was in charge. He just wasn?t a Christian, and he never really discussed with me his reasons why, and out of respect, I didn't ask.

But I learned a lot from that gentlemen, and I mean that word in the truest sense; he really was a gentle-man. He was thoughtful, caring, compassionate, empathetic, full of kindness and grace toward others, and always, always, always thankful.

I was much younger back then, but I think about him especially during this season of the year, when our collective focus (at least in the United States) is upon being thankful.

So today, I want to challenge you to take time every day (not just during November) and, from the bottom of your heart, give God thanks for everything you've got . . . and if you can't think of anything to be thankful for, you can thank Him that you're above the ground and not under it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

* Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION?. Copyright ? 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ? Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

* Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION

Copyright ? 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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