One of the Bible stories that stuck firmly in my mind from my early childhood days in Sunday School was the somewhat horrifying story in Luke 17:11-19 of the ten lepers who Jesus healed and the stunningly offensive act of the nine who (gasp!) did not say “thank you.”
As a kid, saying thank you is of the utmost importance. You know you’re supposed to do it almost constantly. And if you don’t, Mommy’s voice is there with the warning prompt, “Say thank you.” It’s something we’re taught because it’s significant. It’s more than mere politeness — a habit of saying thanks shapes our attitude and posture toward the world.
Ah, but then we grow up. Mommy’s not there any more with her “Say thank you” and we’re left to be as grateful as we wanna be. Do we desire to be grateful? Sure! But often we’re like those nine who — and my childhood shock still rises as I write this — were healed from a terrible disease and a lifetime of being ostracized, and did not turn to say “thank you”! Somehow, even in this dramatic event-of-all-events in their lives, gratitude fell to the wayside.
Only one — a double outsider who was not only a leper but also a Samaritan — came to Jesus and praised him in overflowing gratitude and faith.
What’s strikes me today is the importance of recognizing that this account is not a parable. It sort of reads like one — like a lesson cloaked in hyperbole. After all, there’s no way only one would say thanks! . . . Right?
But it’s no parable. It’s something that literally happened, making its lesson all the more powerful.
The “90%” in this account probably felt grateful later. They likely had moments of wonder that evening as the shock wore off and they realized they’d been healed. But for some reason a “thank you” wasn’t their instinctive reaction. We can speculate why, but perhaps the more weighty matter at hand is considering the question for ourselves.
Why am I often so neglectful of the practice of expressing gratitude to God? I’ll be pondering and praying about this question today. Will you join me?