If you’re not giving thanks to God for everything you’ve experienced in 2020, you’re out of His will.

That’s a potent statement, but don’t take my word for it. “Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Rain or shine, we are to thank God.  COVID-19 or no COVID-19, we are to thank God. Good, bad, whatever—in all things we are to be thankful. Of course, we’re not thankful for the bad things; we are to be thankful in spite of the bad things.

On one occasion, Jesus encountered ten men with leprosy (Luke 17:11-19). Lepers were the first people to practice social distancing, and these men did what they were supposed to: They stayed more than six feet away. But instead of calling out and warning Jesus, “Leper! Unclean!” they cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They didn’t call out to Jesus; they called out for Jesus.

We don’t know if Jesus just yelled back at them or if He came close. We know of another occasion where He actually touched a leper (Matt. 8:2-3). Jesus would not have been fearful, for He knew what He could do—and what He was about to do! He simply told them to go and show themselves to the priests. (Jewish priests could make the official pronouncement that they were clean.) This was an act of faith on their part. They weren’t cleansed—yet. It was while they went in faith and obedience to the word of Jesus that their healing occurred.

Now this is where the story gets interesting. On seeing his skin was restored, one “retired” leper paused before going to the priest. He went back to Jesus and thanked Him. It wasn’t that he was being disobedient to what Jesus said, but he was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he just had to express it.

Why didn’t the other nine lepers thank Jesus? Since you asked, let me share my theory.  This lone man was more than a medical outcast; he was a spiritual outcast. He was a despised Samaritan, but his physical healing showed this man that Jesus did not see him as an outcast. There was love and mercy in Jesus, something this man may have never experienced from anyone.

It also possible the other nine lepers, who were Jews, were somewhat familiar with the things of God. They had the Hebrew Scriptures and surely knew the stories of God’s working among His people. They were more “familiar” with God than a Samaritan would be.

As Christians, we are aware of the wondrous ways of God—both from Scripture and our own experiences. Are we so familiar with the things of God that we take them for granted? May that never happen, but we would do well to ensure our own spiritual well-being by remaining in a constant state of thankfulness.

God truly blesses us—even in annoying years like 2020! And His blessings can be so abundant—even in bad seasons of life—that we take them for granted. We only notice them when they’re gone.

Get in God’s will and thank Him. Make a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly and use that list to drive your thankfulness! Even in the difficult things—the hardships and griefs—find ways to thank God.

After all, that’s God’s will.

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