Tea and Leprosy

On Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago, the ladies of Welch College (where I work) hosted a tea for the female students. Each table hostess was given a card with ice breakers and topics to facilitate deep and meaningful conversations with the students placed at that particular table for the hour they were together.

After a few minutes of chatting about silly things and munching on our chicken salad croissants, my table ventured into the deeper conversation starters, beginning with the first questions: “What have you been praying for longest? What is the most recent prayer God has answered for you?” The first question itself left me feeling a bit guilty, as I realized how inconsistent my prayer life often is; was there any specific prayer request that I had frequently brought to the Lord? Sure, there were desires in my life I wanted to see filled, family members I wanted to see reconciled with God, but how often do I intentionally bring those burdens before the throne of God in prayer?

As we went around the table each student shared prayers they were praying for themselves or others, and then the conversation gradually shifted to answering the second question: What prayer has God recently answered for you? This question brought quite a few smiles as we considered ways the Lord was answering our prayers and working in our lives.

Then Chelsea spoke up.

“I’m afraid I often don’t recognize the prayers God answers for me, because life just gradually gets better or a situation goes back to the way I think it should be and I move on with my life.”

Her words struck a chord with me. I said, “In some ways, we are all the nine lepers Jesus healed who don’t remember to return and thank their Healer.”

I’ve been stuck on this idea for the past two weeks since the conversation, and since my Bible reading this week from Leviticus even discussed what a leper must do to be counted as clean again by the priest, the thought remained quite fresh in my mind. My reading even brought more clarity to the gospel account, because lepers would not be considered as truly healed until the priest announced them “clean” again. There were detailed sacrifices and rituals that had to be done for those who had once been afflicted to resume a normal place in society.

So, maybe the nine got caught up in the ritual. Maybe they were so overwhelmed with all the rights they had regained that they had to find family and friends to rejoice with over their good fortune. It’s a little understandable. In fact, as the student at my tea table pointed out, it’s something we’re quite good at, if we’re honest.

For the Christian, Christ has been Healer and Redeemer for us in a way just as powerful and life-changing as those ten lepers. Yet we are all too prone to go our way and forget the Source of our freedom. We rejoice in the changes we see in our lives, both from His work of salvation and the ongoing redemptive work He is working in and through His people, but often we stop there. We revel in the results, the benefits; we neglect the Giver of all good gifts.

Instead, let’s work to cultivate in our hearts the response of leper number ten:

“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.”

Bring your burdens to the Lord, friends. And then bring your gratitude back to Him when He helps carry the load.

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