Healing Through a Thankful Heart

Video of Nick Vujicic, born without arms and legs.

Nick doesn’t make direct reference to his faith in this particular video, but this is just one of hundreds of videos that he has made through presentations over the years, and he does give thanks to God for the gifts that he has even though he doesn’t have arms and legs.

The most impressive lesson (in my mind) is Nick’s perception of life through the lens of abundance. And he acknowledges that he hasn’t always thought that way. For some time he saw life through his deficiencies, a view of scarcity, blaming God for his physical disabilities and complaining about the things that he couldn’t do.

But he recognized that his anger and resentment wasn’t going to change his situation. In one of his full presentation video’s he even talks about how his grief regarding lack of limbs had turned into a personal pity party, a perception that assumed God had made a mistake. And then one day his pastor reminded him that God doesn’t create without purpose. Maybe Nick had to spend some time considering the blessings he had been given instead of fueling anger and hate.

This disabled man felt a change happening within him. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he decided to do something with his life. What happened in the past was in the past, it cannot be changed, so why continue to hold anger? He said, “I was created for a purpose and I could waste my years on earth in a state of uselessness and loneliness or I could move beyond my anger and experience joy in God’s forgiveness.”

Nick’s recognition of abundance affirmed the healing that was happening in his heart. Jesus was traveling on his way to Jerusalem, where he would be condemned and crucified when ten lepers, social outcasts because of their diseases, begged Jesus for mercy and healing. It was Jewish custom that lepers would not come near healthy people and were typically banished from the community until they were healed (if they ever were).

From a distance, Jesus cured their disease. But it wasn’t in the immediate moment. They were to show themselves to the Priests at which time they would be ‘cleansed’. That move by Jesus was important for two reasons. First, the Priests witnessed the miracle of Jesus first hand and secondly, the Priests were the only authority by which outcasts could be reintroduced to social acceptance.

After getting what they wanted, just one leper returned to give thanks to Jesus for the miracle, and that one was a Samaritan (an unacceptable rival of the Jews). When Jesus noticed that this man was the only one that returned, he said, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” The Greek word translated for ‘well’ in this version of the Bible can also be translated as ‘saved’.

The text seems to be a simple healing story but I see a concept that differentiates between healing and curing. One of the theologians from seminary describes a human trinity that includes the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our existence. The miracles of Jesus were typically cures of physical ailments, just like the 10 lepers. But healing goes deeper than physical transformation.

Everyone has probably heard of the Hatfield and McCoy’s, right? These are two families from Kentucky who have hated each other for generations, mainly because of an argument over a pig decades ago. One day a Hatfield crossed paths with a McCoy in town and they ended up in a slugfest, resulting in a broken hand for the Hatfield and a broken nose on the McCoy. They both eventually were cured of their broken bones, but their emotional and spiritual beings were not healed. As a matter of fact, those wounds were nearly fatal emotionally and spiritually. The anger and hatred toward the other clawed and ripped at their spirits, causing a miserable and dissatisfied life.

One leper returned to Jesus, praising God in a loud voice and threw himself at Jesus feet. He recognized that Jesus had provided a cure that he didn’t deserve and that he couldn’t have done on his own. And Jesus said, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well (or has saved you).’ Not only was the one leper’s disease cured, but his emotional and spiritual life was healed.

Nick’s prayers for a miracle to grow arms and legs never occurred. His physical body did not change but his emotional and spiritual sides were healed. His anger was extinguished and he found purpose. The past was behind him and he let go of the control that those past emotions had over him. Instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, Jesus transformed his spirit to give thanks for what God had given him…a ministry of incredible testimony and the strength and courage to move forward out of his
pity and comfort.

When we have been hurt, disrespected, or forced to change plans, how do we react? Will we lay blame, point fingers, and wallow in self pity or can we see an opportunity to grow and learn while trusting God to guide our paths? Sometimes I refer to it as ‘playing the hand we’ve been dealt.’ Jesus cured 10 lepers. And praise be to God that he has not held back his love and forgiveness, even when we are one of the ungrateful nine. So today, let’s be the one to give thanks for our blessings, seen and unseen, as we humbly lay our desire for control into his hands. Amen.