Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever. – Psalm 107From Martin Hayward:
Maybe it’s because the newspapers are always full of such bad news that I, for one, have become so hardened that it takes a lot to shake me anymore. And perhaps it’s why I haven’t been more shocked at Luke’s report of that time when Jesus healed ten men with the dreadful, terminal illness of leprosy but – here’s the shocking bit – of the ten there was only one who “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.” Then Jesus said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well”. (Luke 11; 15,16, 19)
I’m writing this over the Bank Holiday weekend when the sun has been shining gloriously. I spent Saturday morning shouting from the touchline as some of my grandchildren played football and then, on Sunday, I enjoyed sharing worship in a real church with real people in the pews. Later on, I enjoyed sharing a barbecue with others from my family. Such simple pleasures, but oh how much we’ve longed for them over the past months. And, oh, how so many other families wish that their loved ones could have spent time with them this weekend but instead the Covid pandemic has cruelly torn them away.
But then there’s the third group who act as if it’s now all over and forgotten – social distancing a thing of the past, masks a nuisance we can forget when we go to the shops, government rules simply annoyances to be flouted without a backwards glance or a thought of gratitude to those who have made our freedoms possible. Now that the effects of the illness have been reduced, it seems that – just like the other nine lepers – many choose to carelessly enjoy freedom without contemplating possible lessons learned from our common experiences.
In Scripture, the disease of leprosy is often used as a metaphor for sin. Jesus healed the ten of physical illness but only one stopped to give thanks. Whilst the others carried on as if it was all over and forgotten, just one reflected, turned back and acknowledged what Jesus had done for him. When Jesus told him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well”, it was more than simply a physical cure that man had received. His faith had made him right with God; his sins were healed.
The Bible exhorts us to give thanks to God for all our gifts – our cleansing from physical ailments certainly, but so much more his cleansing of the effects of sin in our lives. Maybe the lasting lesson from the past months is the reminder of just how much we have to thank God for. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever.