November 25, 2010 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"Your Gratitude Will Make You Well"
There are many stories of healing in the Bible, and quite a few of them conclude with words similar to the following being said to the person who has just been healed: “Go on your way, your faith as you made you well.” For this Thanksgiving edition of the “Weekly Words of Wellness,” I want to focus on one such story. This story is from Luke 17 and it involves Jesus heals ten men with leprosy. In this story, ten lepers cry out to Jesus for healing, and within moments their leprosy disappears. One could only imagine their complete and utter joy as they go off to show others that they have been healed. The story then tells us that one of the ten returns to Jesus to give thanks to him for his healing. Jesus wonders why they other nine are no where to be found, and then he says to the one man who came to give thanks, “Go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
In this story of healing, we find out that ten people were healed, but only one was made well. Ten people were healed, but only one was made whole. And what was it that made the one person well and whole? Gratitude. Giving thanks is what brought wholeness to his soul. What is true for this man who was made whole, is also true for you and me. Gratitude heals our souls and creates wellness and wholeness within ourselves and in the important relationships in our lives. Gratitude is good for the soul.
Gratitude is based in a spirit of humility and of expressing appreciation to others. The opposite of gratitude is self-centeredness, or narcissism, which is based in a spirit of arrogance and appreciation of self. Just as leprosy was far too common in Biblical times, so is narcissism far too common in our world today. Leprosy disfigures the body; narcissism disfigures the soul. All of us struggle with some degree of self-centeredness, and so it’s good to know that there is an antidote for this struggle--the practice of authentic gratitude. Notice that the word “thank” is so naturally followed by the word “you.” We don’t say, “I just want to thank me........” The focus is not on self, but on others, and on God.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” wrote author William Arthur Ward. The practice of gratitude is distinct from the feeling or thought of gratitude, and this Thanksgiving week, I want to recommend it to us all. Tell at least five people you know how grateful you are that they are in your life. Tell them specific things that you really appreciate about them. Keep a gratitude journal and write down five things you are grateful for that day--everyday.
Note that the name of the holiday we celebrate this week is not Thanks-feeling, or Thanks-thinking, but rather Thanks-giving. Give the gift of gratitude to as many people as you can. The paradox is that the people we often forget to do this for are the people with whom we are closest. Expressing gratitude can soften the tension and smooth out the rough edges in any relationship.
So go on your way, and out of your way, to give thanks, and as you do, notice how your gratitude will make you, and the relationships in your life, well.
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