Legend says that God sent two angels with baskets to earth to gather the prayers of humans. The first angel was to fill a basket with the requests, wants, and desires of people. The other was to gather prayers of thanksgiving. When they returned to God, one angel’s basket was heaped high, running over with the countless petitions of men and women. The other angel had searched diligently but alas, returned with an almost empty basket. Are we a thankless society?
Some say we are, especially in the United States. It’s hard to be thankful living in a land of plenty. The evidence manifests itself in what has become of our traditional Thanksgiving celebration. Department store decorations quickly morph from the orange and black of witches and goblins to the red and green of Santa’s and holly, squeezing the Pilgrims and Mr. Turkey to a bare honorable mention in some dark corner of the sale aisle. The customary turkey dinner is acknowledged with a big burp, followed by a manly football binge. Women bide their time waiting for the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year – the day after Thanksgiving.
Thanklessness is nothing new. Jesus encountered the same thing in his Biblical times. Luke 17 gives the account of Jesus stopping outside a village on his way to Jerusalem. There he was met by ten lepers pleading for healing. “Jesus, master, have mercy on us!” Jesus did have mercy and healed them.
Leprosy was a dreaded, incurable disease. Affecting the skin, it caused disfigurement. The skin would dry up and rot. Fingers, toes, ears, and limbs would waste away and fall off. Lepers lived a life of continual discomfort and misery. Because the disease was contagious, lepers were not allowed in the city. They were dependent on charity outside the gate or isolated and banished to colonies.
Imagine the gift Jesus gave these lepers by healing them. They were no longer shunned by society. Their lives were restored. Their joy must have been overwhelming. However, only one returned to Jesus to thank him for what he had done. Jesus noted this ingratitude in Luke 17:17. “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?"
If people are not thankful for the big things that happen in their lives, it’s hard to imagine them being thankful for simple, everyday blessings. Yet, thankful for them, we need to be – not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of the year.
In Old Testament times, being thankful was so important that certain Levites were appointed to give continual praise and thanks to God (1 Chronicles 16: 4). Jesus himself set us an example of thankfulness (Matthew 11:25, 26:7; John 11:41). In all things, we need to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and recognize that blessings come from God (James 1:17). Romans 1:21-22 tells us that those who aren’t thankful are very, very foolish.
This Thanksgiving, I hope we’ll all be thankful. There will always be those with more than us and less than us, but the worst of what we have is better than what the majority in the world possess. Not only should we be thankful for things, but people. Acknowledge those who have done you a kindness. Never underestimate the power of the words, “Thank you.” They go along way with people – and they go along way with God.
When angels in disguise come to fill their baskets at your door, don’t be afraid to make your requests known to God, but always with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). One basket should not outweigh the other in your life – especially on Thanksgiving Day.
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