Gratitude

Jesus asked, Were not all ten men with leprosy cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner? Then he said to him, “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:17-19, NIV

I have often pondered on this particular story of what happened when Jesus answered the cry for healing from ten men with leprosy. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest and, as they went, they were healed. The extraordinary fact about this story is that only one of the lepers returned to give thanks – and the one who did wasn’t even a Jew – he was a Samaritan, a foreigner.

The main focus of this Gospel story is not the amazing fact that all the lepers were healed, but that nine of them never returned to praise God and express their gratitude to Jesus for what was a totally life-changing experience. We hear nothing more of the other nine. It was clearly a matter of great distress to Jesus that none of them came back to praise God and say thank you.

My meditation on this story caused me to do some soul-searching about how easy it is to take for granted the extraordinary blessings God pours out on our lives day by day. And how easy it is to take them for granted and be remiss in expressing our praise and thanksgiving to God. Many of the great hymn-writers expressed the ideal that every new day is an opportunity to praise and thank God.. For example: “When morning gilds the skies, my heart awaking cries: May Jesus Christ be praised.” And John Keble’s classic hymn, New Every Morning, expresses it so powerfully when in the second verse he says:

“New mercies, each returning day,
Surround Your people as they pray;
New dangers past, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of Heaven.”

And finally, maybe there are people who have impacted your own life in one of many different possible ways. Did you ever express your thanks to them for the help they were to you, some perhaps at considerable cost to themselves? It would be a blessed day indeed if we caught up with our expressions of gratitude – both to God for all He has done – and to others for the help they have given you.

Prayer: “I am sorry, Lord, for the times when, like the nine lepers I have forgotten to give You thanks and praise for all the blessings You have poured into my life. Help me, today, to put things right with You. Help me, also, Lord, to remember those people who have blessed my life and whom I have never returned to them to say thank you and express my gratitude. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.