Happiness and Thanksgiving

Thankfulness is the secret to happiness. Think about it. No one who complains is really happy. No one who worries is happy. Discontented people are unhappy people. The way to be glad is to be grateful.  Gratitude depends upon one’s view of God.

Jesus healed a man of the dread disease of leprosy. The loathsome ailment had left him disfigured and forced to live apart from society. In America, sociologists tell us, we have a cultural bias against ugly people. Unattractive people are at a disadvantage when competing for the best jobs and promotions. This unfortunate man, because of his affliction, had a disagreeable appearance.

Jesus healed him. In Luke 17:16 we find the man “praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.” Obviously the man was both happy and thankful. Was he happy because he was thankful or thankful because he was happy?

He was both thankful and happy because he had a God-centered point of view. He was praising God. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Some people are appreciative by nature, but some are not and it is these latter people who especially need God’s power to express thanksgiving. We should remember that every good gift comes from God and that he is ‘the Source, Support and End of all things.’ . . . . Life is a gift of God, and the blessings of life come from his bountiful hand.”

Some of the psalms in the Bible direct us to this point of view. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).  “At midnight I will rise to give you thanks because of your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:62). The last book in the Bible teaches us to “give glory and honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:9).

I suspect the man was happy because he was thankful. And he was thankful because he knew his healing was a gift from God. Jesus had not only given him physical healing, but salvation for his soul. The phrase spoken by the Lord, “Your faith has made you well,” could be translated, “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19). There is evidence here that the man became a believer in Christ on this occasion and he gave praise to God.

It is a remarkable thing that this man was one of ten who were healed on that day. He alone came back to Jesus to say thank you. All ten of them were afflicted with the same disease. All of them had heard about Jesus and his power to heal. All of them cried out to him for help. All ten of them were healed.

But only one of the ten came back to Jesus to say thanks. As he did it he was overwhelmed with joyful praise to God. Here was a man who was God-centered in his thinking. Because of that he was thankful. And because of that he was happy.

George Morrison, the Scottish preacher, wrote, “If all that happens to us comes by chance, then of course no one can be grateful. Gratitude is not a duty then, because there is no one to be grateful to.” He went on to say that in the gospel of Jesus Christ, believers (like the man in our story) have  “been awaked through their Lord and Savior to a God whose name and character was love. . . .  The moment  anyone awakes to that and with heart and soul believes in that, then gratitude is born.”

Pastor Randy Faulkner