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Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

In his classic book, “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis says this about Satan and demons: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”

As usual, Lewis is spot-on with his counsel. As followers of Jesus, our obsession must be the savior, not the enemy. After all, the devil trembles in the presence of Jesus.

As long as we stay close to Christ, we have no reason to fear Satan. Yet we should indeed believe in the existence of the evil one, for the Bible clearly teaches his existence.

One of the most striking passages in the gospels is Mark 5:1-20, where Jesus meets a demon-possessed man.

Last week I wrote about the time when Jesus stilled the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee. When the storm came up that night, Jesus and his disciples were headed to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

That, in itself, was highly unusual. Most of the people who lived on the western side stayed on the western side. The eastern side was known as a place of darkness, filled with people from whom they wanted to keep their distance.

But not Jesus. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus saw people not just as who they were, but as who they could be by his grace. Do we see people like Jesus did?

Russell Moore is right when he says, “The next Billy Graham might be drunk right now. The next Jonathan Edwards might be the man driving in front of you with the Darwin Fish bumper decal. The next Charles Wesley might be a profanity-spewing hip-hop artist. The next Charles Spurgeon might be managing an abortion clinic today. The next Mother Teresa might be a heroin-addicted porn star today. The next Augustine might be a sexually promiscuous cult member right now. But the Spirit of God can turn all that around.”

Yes, he can! In fact, he delights in doing so.

That’s what happened on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus stepped out of the boat and was immediately met by a man possessed by a “legion” of demons. The man was a human wrecking ball and a human wreck. He was uncontrollable and self-destructive.

But the moment that Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the man, out they came. In an instant, the raging storm inside this man was stilled, and he was at peace. He was whole. He was healed.

He wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Do you ever stop to think about God’s mercy toward you, about how much he has done for you?

Let us cultivate an attitude of gratitude by continually reminding ourselves of the Lord’s goodness and mercy toward us. Let us remember how Jesus went to the cross and allowed our death and darkness to converge on him, that we might receive life and light.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.