by Bob Wickizer

Love That Springs From Gratitude
Bob Wickizer
Jeremiah 29:1,4-7; Psalm 66:1-11; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19

Wednesday night we kicked off our adult Christian formation series with a lively discussion on angels. When the topic of guardian angel arose, someone asked why we appear to have a guardian angel at some times in our lives while at other times, they seem to be absent. I responded by asking what made them think that because a situation did not turn out the way they wanted that God was not looking out for them.

The obvious times in our lives are the easy ones: the car accident we barely missed; the rapid recovery from an accident; the child who makes it through a challenging situation and so on. These are the easy times when we get a desirable outcome, we can turn and say "Thank you God." But what about the times when things aren't so obvious?

Let us consider one of the nine lepers who was healed of his disease, yet never returned to give thanks and praise to God. I will call him Yusef. Yusef's father had been a wealthy merchant who through a bad business deal was defrauded by his partner and the tax collectors. Thrown into prison he was beaten within an inch of his life. By the time he got out of prison, he was a broken man in every sense of the word. Still, he managed to marry and have two sons. Yusef's older brother was the apple of his parents' eyes. As a child, Yusef was often ill and his father beat him because of his disappointment.

When Yusef contracted leprosy as a young man, it plunged his entire family deeper into the pit of shame. He left for a village of lepers in the hills but he carried with him the simmering disappointment, rage and self-hatred of his father and grandfather.

In the leper village, Yusef had only one thing he could pride himself on above the others. He was from Galilee while most of the other lepers were hated Samaritans. At least he wasn't part of the scum of Samaria he thought to himself.


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