“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.” (Luke 17:15, ESV)
Are handwritten thank you notes still a thing? I confess that I sometimes send a text or email instead of finding a pen, paper, and postage stamp. I feel a little guilty when I don’t write a personal note, but I’ve convinced myself that it’s an acceptable alternative in today’s society. (Etiquette books may disagree.) I do know that I feel disappointed—maybe a bit more than that—when I spend my time and money to select, wrap, and send a gift that goes completely unacknowledged. Gratitude should never go out of style.
The Missing Men
Luke 17 tells of a time when Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem and met ten lepers in one of the villages along the way. Outcasts because of their disease, they stood at a distance and called out to Jesus for healing. He gave them simple instructions: go show yourselves to the priest as the Law requires.
As the ten men started on their way, they were healed. Of the ten, only one turned back to thank the Lord. Luke says the man glorified God with a loud voice. He was unconcerned with who might hear him or what they thought of his exuberance. He fell at the feet of Jesus and gave thanks. Luke noted that the man was a Samaritan, a people generally shunned by the Jews. Yet it was this outsider who showed true gratitude for his healing.
Jesus asked a simple question. “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (verse 17).
How is it possible to be healed from such a debilitating, cruel disease without expressing gratitude to the One who healed you? And yet, many of us today walk through life without giving much thought to the abundance of blessings God showers us with each day. So often we take our blessings for granted. Are we no better than the missing nine?
Living a Life of Gratitude
Living with gratitude changes our focus and enriches our lives. Our thoughts shift from what we don’t have but think we should to an appreciation for even the simplest things we do possess.
Are there benefits to having a grateful attitude? Research says yes. Some of those benefits include:
- Increased happiness
- Less stress
- Better physical health and longer life
- Less materialistic
- Better relationships
- A closer relationship with God
G.K. Chesterton is quoted as saying, “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” It’s so easy for us to take things for granted. Take a look around wherever you may be at this moment. What do you see that sparks gratitude in your heart? (Hint: electricity, clean water, adequate shelter, reliable transportation, sufficient food, healthy children, a safe environment, employment, a Bible.)
- If you do not keep a gratitude journal, consider starting one. It can be a special notebook, an app on your phone, or a file on your computer. Take a few moments to jot down a special blessing you have received or something you are grateful for that you may have previously taken for granted.
- During your devotional time, do a scripture search on thankfulness. Here are just a few to get you started: Colossians 2:7, Colossians 3:15, II Corinthians 9:15, I Thessalonians 5:18.
- Send a card, text, or email to someone expressing appreciation for their friendship, times they helped you, or for their words of encouragement.
- Write a thank you letter to God.
“The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for.” – Zig Ziglar