(Originally written in November, 1991, and distributed again in November, 2000. Ironically, I now have partial ownership in a distributorship of HIV test kits. Nineteen years later, Magic Johnson is still alive).

I turned up the radio a little bit so I could be sure I had heard correctly. Magic Johnson, at the very height of his career with my favorite Los Angeles Lakers team, had retired due to the diagnosis that he had the AIDS virus. A man who had “everything” – awards, money, championships, the satisfaction of being the best at what he did, influence, a new wife, and a child on the way – will probably die of a currently “incurable” disease. Not only the basketball fans, but an entire nation was shocked. The AIDS disease was suddenly closer to everyone.

Many years ago, ten men were walking down the road. They each had an incurable disease. All ten men were instantly healed by Jesus, but only one of the ten returned to say, “Thank you”. You say, “I can’t believe that. If I got AIDS, and someone gave me a miracle drug to permanently cure me, I would be forever grateful.” But don’t be so fast to judge. All of us are basically selfish, ungrateful, and can see only our current “needs” and desires. Every day hundreds of others serve us, and we only pause to complain to the one out of 100 who did not perform up to our standard.

Have you said, “thank you” lately to a firefighter, law enforcement officer, store clerk, teacher, doctor, pastor, or to a service person? Even more importantly, what about the friend who is always there, that special grandparent, your brother or sister, your mom or dad, your mate, or even your children? Why are we so ungrateful to those who love us the most and are closest to us?

In a world bent on satisfying “self ” with power, pleasure, and possessions, the gracious thankful person with a smiling face and positive words is a rarity. America is the greatest nation on this earth, but even on Thanksgiving Day, few will even pause between the turkeys and TV to offer a word of thanks to their creator. Billy Graham says,

“Thanksgiving is a part of the intimate relationship that exists between us and God. Yet there are thousands today who are not thankful. We aren’t thankful as individuals, nor are we thankful as a nation.”

Robert Woods, quoted in Forbes Magazine, says,

“We don’t thank God enough for much that He has given us. Our prayers are too often the beggar’s prayer, the prayer that asks for something. We offer too few prayers of thanksgiving and praise.” Just because most people we meet will be ungrateful does not mean that we should return in kind. “It is another’s fault if he be ungrateful; but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige many that are not so. I had rather never receive a kindness than never bestow one. Not to return a benefit is a great sin; but not to confer one is a greater.” – Seneca

More than one hundred thirty times in the Bible we are called upon to give thanks to God. In the Psalms alone, we are reminded of it thirty times. “Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”

  1. “It is good to give thanks to the Lord”
  2. My favorite is in the New Testament, where we are instructed to “thank God no matter what happens.”
  3. As we enter this holiday season, may we form a life-long habit of being thankful to our family, friends, and everyone else that we encounter. Let us all be thankful to God. He has given us all things. And remember, spiritually speaking, we are all born with an incurable disease, yet He has freely offered the cure,

May we all learn to be thankful
– even in difficult times.

Kent Humphreys.



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