Turning Back to say Thanks
And one of [the lepers], when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. And fell down on his face at [Jesus’] feet, giving him thanks (Luke 17:15-16 KJV).
My administrative career started with a bang. A large, prestigious school district employed me as an assistant principal right after completing my doctoral program. One year later, I was promoted to principal of a high-profile K-8. It was only the second time in the district’s history a promotion that fast had ever happened. The other person who’d been promoted quickly had been a teacher at the same school for many years prior. I soon joined several district committees, wrote a column for a magazine, and guest lectured for my formal doctoral program. It was exciting to see my dreams unfold as I’d planned them, and I looked forward to more successful ventures. Possibly a superintendent’s position would be in my near future.
Several years later, things changed. Due to a new baby, a sudden illness, and my husband’s deployments, my family became my priority. I did the unthinkable and left my profession. Though it was painful, I dissolved a relationship with a job I loved. I knew I couldn’t pull eighty-hour workweeks anymore and care for myself and my family at the same time. Through no one’s fault, my career paused.
My dreams and priorities shifted, and I began to imagine a life as a full-time author. At first, I wrote what I knew. I worked independently as an educational consultant and wrote curriculum for a time. Soon I began networking with other writers to develop and improve my craft. This led to opportunities to work as a ministry leader, cowrite a Bible study with a pastor’s wife, and speaking engagements. Later, I wrote my study. Then I branched out to write for magazines and penned a trilogy of the first of three general market thrillers. I’m currently shopping literary agencies for my manuscript—the first of the many steps in the traditional publication process. The publication seems far off. With the discouragements, waiting, and changes in my career, I’m tempted to be impatient and often forget to give thanks for my journey.
Things changed for the lepers in Luke 17: 15-16, too. Nothing is known about the careers and dreams they enjoyed before becoming lepers, and disease pillaged their bodies. Indeed, when their stigmatized illness ostracized them, their plans and priorities shifted. Their way of financing their lives must’ve also changed. But when Jesus came to their city, the lepers saw an opportunity to change their circumstances through a miraculous healing. Foreseeing a shift in their future, the men gladly obeyed Jesus’ command anticipating they would be healed. Yet, after their leprosy was healed, only one remembered to turn back to thank their healer, Jesus. Unfortunately, when their desired change happened, most of them forgot about Jesus.
This example of ingratitude reminds me of myself and how soon I forget about God’s faithfulness to me. Constantly, I find myself looking to the future for the next goal to accomplish, failing to express my thankfulness to a God who has brought me through many challenges and adversities and instilled within me the ability to achieve.
Life often throws us curveballs, prompting our circumstances to change and our focus to shift in an instant. However, in times of certainty and prospering, and in our times of hardship and disappointment, God still deserves our thanks.
Prayer: Dear Father, Great is Your faithfulness to me. No matter what, remind me to praise your name. Show me how to express my gratitude for the valley and the mountaintop. Show me how to put all my hope in You. Amen.
Your Turn: Are there things, people, circumstances from which God has delivered you? Have you forgotten to thank God? How do you remind yourself to display a grateful heart?