Thank you, Lord

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

In Luke 17, as Jesus is entering a village, he is greeted by ten men with leprosy, who cry out to Jesus for healing. Jesus tells them to go see the priests, and on the way, they are healed. All ten of the lepers rejoice, but only one, a Samaritan, comes back to thank Jesus. Jesus responds by saying, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18). And then Jesus says to the healed man, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well" (Luke 17:19).

In those days, lepers were outcasts from their community, with no access to the temple to worship because of their disease (Leviticus 13:46). You can understand why, in their desperation, they would cry out to Jesus for healing, pleading with him not only to relieve their suffering but to restore community with their fellow Israelites and fellowship with God to them. And Jesus, out of his compassion, heals them.

Incredibly, however, only one leper returns to give thanks to Jesus. Nine lepers, for reasons the text does not specify, continue on towards the priests, who could declare them clean, but they do not return to thank Jesus.

We may shake our heads at the rudeness of these lepers, but we would be wise to consider whether we are any different. Are we prone to crying out to God when we are in trouble, but ignoring Him when things are going well? Do we not realize that everything good in our lives is an undeserved gift of God’s favor, and that He deserves our gratitude? How often are we returning to thank God for His gifts, both big and small?

In the story, it is the one leper who returned to give thanks who hears Jesus say “your faith has made you well.” All ten lepers were healed, but only one received salvation, forgiveness of sins, true healing of the soul. There is something about acknowledging the gift we have been given by Jesus that brings deeper healing to our soul.
           
This week, of course, is Thanksgiving. I encourage you to remember the ten lepers this week: the nine who received God’s grace but neglected to thank Him, and the one who returned to thank Jesus for His healing. Let us return to our Lord often this week and beyond, giving Him the thanks and praise that He is due.
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