Praise, Gratitude, and the Deeper Healing

24 11 2010

As we move into what I call the “Grateful Season” of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I want to encourage you that an attitude of gratitude experienced through a lifestyle of praise just might transform your life.  This is my thesis:  gratitude expressed through Praise brings a deep healing in your heart!

As a missionary for 10 years in Japan and as a pastor for the past 15 years in Colorado Springs, I can tell you that most Christians are not experiencing this deeper healing.  Most believers have never come to grasp the power of gratitude and most are not experiencing the joy of praise.

You see, to praise God through an attitude of gratitude is warfare, warfare with our flesh and the values of this world.  Satan doesn’t want you to learn the power of gratitude expressed through praise.  Because an attitude of gratitude breaks the power of pride over our life.  Making a choice to rejoice breaks the power of selfishness over our heart.

Gratitude expressed through praise opens up intimacy with Jesus!  It was C.S. Lewis who helped me understand this.  Lewis struggled with this whole concept of gratitude and praise of God, yet he discovered something that most Jesus followers never understand.  Some theologians have called this “Lewis’ greatest theological discovery.”  Lewis describes his struggle and how he worked through it in an extraordinary passage from the essay, “The Problem of Praise in the Psalms”

But the most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything – strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game (Monday night football coming up)…praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”

When I first read these words, it was this phrase that really caught my heart, “[praise] completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”  Gratitude expressed through praise is the completeness of inner healing in our lives!  Gratitude expressed through praise completes the deep healing of our heart because it completes the relationship!

We see this deeper healing in a story of 10 lepers who encounter Jesus in Luke 17:11-19

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:11-13)

Communicable diseases under the Law meant exclusion and literally death to relationships and community—these men had to be quarantined from society—these men literally had no relationships with healthy people.  This was a life or death situation and they wanted Jesus to heal them.

So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:14)

It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t lay hands on them but simply told them to show themselves to the priests.  Matthew Henry, the puritan commentator writes, “This was a trial of obedience.”  These men had a choice to obey or disobey Jesus.  Any cure according to the Book of Leviticus needed a ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ from the first century referees—the Priests.  Obedience often precedes healing!  It seems clear: if they had not gone they would not have been healed.  But, it’s the next part I want emphasize for our purposes.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:15-18)

The men obeyed what Jesus told them to do and they were all recipients of divine healing.  Jesus didn’t command anyone to be thankful or to praise Him!  But this man came back.  Like the jets that fly in formation over the Air Force games, this one peels off and heads back to Jesus.  He is full of joy and praise with an attitude of gratitude.

Jesus seems genuinely dismayed that the others didn’t come back to thank Him—it’s almost like he didn’t need to command this, but expected it. It’s like Jesus needed praise for what He had done.  It’s like Jesus wanted some kind of gratitude for the healing.  Don’t miss this: It’s like Jesus wanted a relationship with those He had healed!   We praise who we delight in—we delight with whom we have a relationship.  Might it be that the healing isn’t complete until we praise Him, because praise completes intimacy?

Jesus wanted something more from these men!  They just wanted Jesus for His blessing, for His power, for His stuff.  Like the two brothers in the Prodigal Son parable, nine of the ten lepers only wanted Jesus for his blessing—they didn’t want a relationship with Him.  Except for this one Samaritan.  Jesus wanted something more.  He wanted friendship and intimacy; he wanted love with their praise and gratitude.

John Piper writes, “God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimately loving act”. This one man did the loving act—he praised and thanked Jesus—and this man received a deeper healing, a deeper blessing, a deeper grace from Jesus.  Let’s see what happened to him.

And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19)

This man not only received the blessing of a healing from his leprosy, but he met Jesus!  His first relationship after healing was Jesus.  His heart is filled up with gratitude expressed through praise and he receives the deeper healing flowing out of the deeper intimacy with Jesus.

This leper wanted Jesus, not just the blessing of Jesus.  Jesus blessed this man above all others and it was this blessing that gave him the deeper healing of intimacy in his heart. This man was not only healed of a physical disease but a heart disease:  he was healed of selfishness; he was deeply healed of his pride.

As we enter the “Gratitude Season” take time to give audible expression to your gratitude through praise.  Jesus is the deeper healing. Bring Jesus into your family—take time to worship and praise Him.  Bring Jesus into your job, by an attitude of gratitude and joy.

My prayer is that you will experience the deepest healing of all—the healing of the heart through an attitude of gratitude expressed through praise.  Have a praise-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas.


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3 responses

26 11 2010
Andy Hornbaker

Good words! Being grateful to God is something I usually only do when I am aware of God. Thnak you Steve for making me more aware of Him, right now.

3 12 2010
Dorinda Jacksch

One can only truly feel the gratitude and the greatfullness of His blessings with an overflowing joy and praise. Many see the things that they have as a blessing from God; but not all feel the love within the blessing we have been given.

If you are a parent and have given immeasurable love to your child, do you not want to see that child succeed, to find joy and feel loved? Indeed, we do and we hope to have that child, one day turn to us and say something like, “Thank you for all that you have been and all that you have done for me.” Not because we deserve our child’s praise, but because we hope to learn how much of our care and love is poured back to us in joy and deep understanding.
As His child, I give to Him a tearful abundance of joyful and heartfelt overflowing praise and worship.
Thank you Pastor Steve for sharing your words and wisdom.

16 03 2011
Meg Ishikawa

“Heal me O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved;for YOU are my praise.: Jeremiah 17:14

This comes after, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately wicked; Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

You are so right – we need that healing and He is offering it and ready to give it! Steve, I just got Kay Arthur’s “Lord, Heal My Hurts,” Bible study! How timely!

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