It’s unclear what comes first.
Is it faith that causes one to be grateful, or are we grateful and then look for someone to whom we can say thanks. What we do know is that somewhere along the road from Galilee to Jerusalem], in a village on the Samaritan border, ten diseased lepers received the miracle they had been praying for. Ten of them got just what they had always wanted from God. But only one felt this whoosh through his body that caused him to turn around and say thank you.
How much time do you spend in simply being grateful? Your answer to that is one determiner of how happy and healthy you are. Really. When I was researching that story in Luke 17:11-19, I came across the research of Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor at University of California – Davis, has found that the attitude of gratitude re-cognizes our brains. In a real way, being thankful rewires us. Those in an experimental control group who kept a gratitude journal for just 3 weeks, spending just a few minutes each night, reported that they slept better, had more energy and most importantly described themselves as happier. You can buy his book Thanks! if you want to know more. Or you could listen to the sermon at LaSalle yesterday to hear about how others share thanks.
Emmons, isn’t a religious man, he’s a practical researcher who found that saying thanks makes a difference.
Gratitude has two stages, he says. “First gratitude is the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life. In gratitude we affirm that all things taken together, life is good. Second gratitude is recognizing that the sources of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.
Gratitude is more than a feeling. It requires a willingness o recognize a) that one has been the beneficiary of someone’s kindness, and b) that the benefactor has intentionally provided a benefit, often incurring some personal cost, and c0 that the benefit has value in the eyes of the beneficiary. Gratitude implies humility – recognition that we could not be who we are or where we are in life without the contributions of others.”
Jesus was so clear in the passage of the 10 lepers – all ten were healed, but only one was saved. The difference was that one was grateful and he let that gratitude change his life.
So today I rise up to meet the giver of all gifts as the day rises to meet the sun. And today I’m going to say Thanks in word and deed. To God and to those I encounter.