“On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).
The above story from the gospel of Luke illustrates for all of us the importance of giving thanks. In this story, Jesus heals ten lepers but only one comes back and praises God. When we read this, we tend to be a little too harsh on the other nine. They are probably doing what you or I would do in this situation. Running for joy, celebrating, touching and hugging loved ones they have not been allowed to be close to etc… It is understandable why it just didn’t occur to them to come back to Jesus. The response of those nine lepers is not even the main point of this story. The main point is that although ten were healed, only one was made well. The one was made well because of his response to the blessing that he had received from God.
When we cultivate gratitude in our hearts, minds, words, attitudes, and actions, what we are doing is putting a shield around us. This world is filed with rage, bitterness, anger, jealousy, and vengeance. All these sins are like a disease. The antidote to the ways these emotions take hold and enslave us is to be grateful. Grateful in all that we do, say, think and believe. The goal is to continue to surround ourselves with a shield of gratefulness that protects our hearts and minds and drives away the fear, bitterness, etc.. that assails us. We need to be grateful for our own wellbeing.
Too often we think that getting a boon, an unexpected blessing, a treasure, or a reward from God is what we need to get by in life. The reality is that these blessings (in all their forms) are just a setup to help us cultivate gratitude. Once we make gratitude a permanent part of who we are – in our demeanor, attitudes, words, thoughts, responses – then the real blessing comes. We are made well! We receive abundant life. For it is gratitude in our hearts that will lead us to the joyful life God has promised us, not wealth, a new car, or a new home.
So, take time to be grateful. Express that gratitude. Notice the good things that you have in life and respond to God’s loving care. Tell others how appreciative you are. Let everyone know. For we worship a wonderful and generous God. A God who desires for us to be made well and experience abundant life.