Recently, I was driving to the prayer room after dropping off the kids at their high school, contemplating how much our family and friends have been praying for us to find the right house in the Ferguson area. At first, we were praying that John’s office building in Kalamazoo (Michigan) would sell so we could have the money we needed for a future down payment. There were so many impediments and setbacks along the way that at one point I wondered if we would ever be able to sell the office. The sale finally went through back in May and then we were able to begin our process of searching for a home down here in Ferguson. I remember being excited to begin “the search.”
But then, the search process was fraught with its own set of challenges - we found a beautiful home and then experienced that sale fall through 48 hours before we closed. After that disappointment, the journey continued like an unwanted roller coaster with high expectations of “almost homes” and the low moments of dashed hopes as those houses disappeared into the landscape of a frenetic real estate market.
Yet here we are, just a couple of weeks out from hopefully closing on another wonderful home.
I was replaying all of the prayers and tears and prophetic declarations that have gone into this process and then I had this thought: Will my thankfulness for obtaining my home be equal to the prayer journey that birthed it? Will my praise match and even exceed the tears and frustration of the past 12 months? I'd like to think of myself as a thankful person overall. I try to remember to thank the Lord when He has answered our prayers and praise Him even when it doesn’t seem like He has answered in the way I prefer. But is my life infused with thankfulness? Do I choose to "rejoice always" as the Apostle Paul admonishes the believers in Phillippi? Do my my inner thoughts reveal a gratefulness that influences how I speak and act?
Many of us have read the story of the 10 lepers who approached Jesus to ask for healing (Luke 17). Can you imagine the soul-crushing moment when you realize that you have contracted a disease that was causing your skin to rot? The devastating realization that your appendages will eventually crumble off your body? To suffer from a disease that made you “unclean” according to the Torah and forced you to move away from your family and friends? A disease that made it impossible for you to receive a loving physical touch from any other human otherwise they could contract the same terrible condition? No hugs. No kisses. Just isolation and shame.
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, 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.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Luke 17:11 - 19
Only one came back.
Would I have come back?
I wonder how many times God answers our prayers, big or small, and then we forget to thank Him? Or, even worse, we belittle the breakthrough with, “Well, it probably would have happened eventually.” I confess that at times I feel this tinge of embarrassment of publicly linking a healing to God, when that healing has come via ibuprofen or a surgical procedure.
Here’s the truth - GOD’S IN ALL OF IT. He’s the One who inspired the scientific thought to discover aspirin and penicillin. He’s the One who encouraged people to figure out solutions to appendicitis (my recent particular health battle) or how to combat cancer. Even when the healing or breakthrough comes through “natural” or “scientific” means, God’s still in ALL of it. He is the very air we breathe as the song says. He is the one who’s hidden medical breakthroughs all throughout creation, just waiting to be discovered. As a wise man once said, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; it is the glory of kings to search it out” (Prov. 25:2).
The journey to breakthrough is challenging and frustrating and often fraught with mental snares and faith-bludgeoning ambushes. We need to pray and fast and petition and study the Word. Those pursuits are beautiful and and powerful and sanctioned by God in the Bible. They are important and often necessary in our deliverance journey. Communicating with our Father during the journey builds our faith and strengthens our resolve to keep going, no matter the hurdles.
Don’t journey alone! We need to invite our friends and family into the process. There is power in agreement! (Matt. 18:19 - 20) Their encouragement can be the holy oxygen we need in a suffocating moment of despair.
Then, when breakthrough comes, we can agree with the psalmist and declare that we have tasted and seen that God is good. He got us through the last storm and He will make a way for us through this one.
So, today, may our response of praise match our season of tears. May our thankfulness for the solution eclipse the mountain of desperate petitions.
Please excuse me while I take a lap around this room and lift up a shout of PRAISE to the One who is worthy!
God is good and His mercy endures forever.