Sometimes in looking for the presence of God, we want God to do something dramatic. Like curing an illness, giving us an instant solution to a serious problem or radically changing a painful circumstance into a time of happiness and peace. We think that if God acted in such a dramatic way our faith would surely be strengthened and we would be able to live our lives with greater courage and confidence.
The Gospel story about Jesus’ cure of the ten lepers is a powerful reminder that dramatic actions do not always lead to greater trust in God (Luke 17:11-19). What could be more dramatic than being cured of the hideous disease of leprosy? Even so, only one of the ten who were cured returned to thank Jesus. Were the other nine simply ungrateful? No. They did not return to thank Jesus because they did not know what had really happened to them. Surely they knew that the sores of leprosy had disappeared. What they did not know was that they had been touched by God. For them, Jesus’ action was literally only skin deep. The drama of the cure was probably an obstacle to identifying where the cure came from. They could not come back to thank Jesus because they did not recognize the gift of his presence in the first place. It was the one who knew in whose presence he had been that returned.
Sometimes we may be so busy looking for miracles that we are blind to seeing the real gifts God gives to us. Rather than asking for God to do something dramatic, we do better if we open ourselves to seeing what God is already providing. We want the external sores of our lives to go away instead of relying on the interior gifts God gives such as strength, wisdom, understanding and perseverance. God wants to work with us from the inside out, not the other way around.
Two little girls were playing in a yard which was surrounded by lots of rosebushes. One of them complained about the prickly thorns on the rosebushes. The other one rejoiced at the beautiful roses on the thornbushes. In seeking God, do we want the thorns removed or do we give thanks for the beautiful roses?
Together in faith,
Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector