“Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18)
Giving thanks is more than just uttering the words “thank you”. It is a way of thinking. It is having a deep sense of appreciation for one’s life just as it is now. One question we often ask ourselves even is: “Why should I give thanks to when I haven’t got this or that? We humans are naturally ungrateful; we tend to focus on our problems and our minds are ever occupied with solving challenges. It takes a conscious effort on our part to be grateful or even to notice the beautiful things in our lives. We literally have to train our minds each day to relax from its problem-finding-mode to a gratitude-mode.
In our Gospel passage, Jesus healed ten lepers but only one returned to give thanks to God; and he was even a foreigner. If we are honest with ourselves, we are most likely to be among the other nine that did not consider it important to return thanks. Have you noticed how you are so worried about a certain problem and then, the moment it is solved, you become worried about another problem which you didn’t even know existed? While these lepers were out there ostracised, they felt their only problem was being cured of leprosy but the moment they realized they had been cured, their minds instantly reminded them of other problems.
Within a split second, they must have gone from extreme excitement to complete sadness with thoughts such as: “How do I begin to pick up the pieces of my life now? Do I return to the family that left me to die in the leper’s colony without even a show of concern? I could beg for alms as a leper but now who will give me since I am no longer a leper?” We could go on and on. These nine lepers, like most of us, didn’t think it was necessary to give thanks. They probably saw their cure as even a new problem.
If we are to be people of gratitude (or if we desire to live very happy lives), we must learn to force our minds to look on the brighter side of things. We always feel bad when people do not appreciate (or complement) our favours for them. If only we are conscious of our own ingratitude, we would realize we have caused so many others pain as well. Gratitude is a behaviour to be learnt;
The benefits of giving thanks are uncountable. People may say: “don’t mention” or “stop thanking me” and so on, but the truth is that, deep within them, they feel super-excited that someone is showing appreciation. It is a basic human need to be appreciated by others. Make someone happy today; tell them you are grateful, give them a gift or just saying something nice in appreciation for what they have done. Jesus Christ himself was happy that this man came to give thanks; so happy that He blest the man: “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you.”
One thing that keeps us from properly giving thanks is having a sense of entitlement; it is the feeling that God or other people owe you, that they are just doing their jobs. Never forget for once that you are dust and to dust you must return. “If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank You,’ it will be enough.” (Elkhart Tolle)
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me how to be grateful! Amen.
Bible Study: Titus 3:1-7 Psalm 23:1-6 and Luke 17:11-19).