When I look at the story of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed in Luke 17:11–19, I wonder how nine of those lepers could have been so ungrateful and thoughtless since they had been delivered from so much. How could they not even think to come back?
Probably many of us have wondered the same thing. How often have we in our relief after an answer to prayer just kept going without acknowledging the wonder of what happened? We give ourselves so many reasons for failing to say thank you. In fact, we are living in a time when writing thank-you notes even for things like wedding gifts or generous financial, emotional, or physical help is the exception, not the rule.
A friend who has been in cancer treatment puts it this way, “While I’m thankful I finished my last treatment and that my doctor says I’m in re-mission, I find I want more instead of focusing on being thankful. I want to be back to normal; I want my hair and my eyelashes and my eyebrows back. I want my fingers and toes to no longer be numb. I want to be doing my responsibilities like I used to. I want to feel energetic. I want, I want.” She summarizes her thoughts about that story by asking two questions: “Do you think the lepers had been beaten down so long that once they experienced some normalcy, they rushed to enter real life quickly? Is it possible they were thankful in their hearts but forgot to practice it in the moment?” Of course we don’t know. What we do know is simple but profound: Gratitude is a discipline of the spirit that we must cultivate and practice.