In the book of Luke, Chapter17 verses 11-19 we read of Jesus healing the ten lepers.
“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where is the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Here we see that it was a Samaritan that made the choice in returning to give thanks to Jesus for his healing. The other nine quickly forgot about their recent plight and went back to their old lives again. This seems very counter intuitive for us in understanding thankfulness.
In this passage we see that the lepers stood at a distance when first addressing Jesus. We have to ask why? The reason is that whether a person was a Jew or Samaritan, they would have been quickly stoned by getting too close to those who were well. They were supposed to stay in the Leper Colony and there they would live and die isolated from the rest of humanity. By leaving the camp they knew that if seen by anyone, they took the chance of being killed and as you can see, it was a very big chance.
When leaving the camp they as a group knew that Jesus was their only hope of getting well and so the risk outweighed their security of staying in the Leper Camp. One can only imagine their fear, anxiety, and trepidation when starting out on this dangerous journey. So, if the risks were so high, then one has to ask, “Why didn’t they come back and thank Jesus for such a wonderful miracle as their healing?” Was it short-term memory loss, or that of being so overjoyed that they forgot how and who it was that healed them? I know that it seems utterly amazing that this would even happen, or at least until I have examined my own life as well.
In recalling the many answered prayers that I have been given and the times that I failed to thank the Lord for them, then I realize that I too fall into the 9 who didn’t return. What of the time I hesitated at the stoplight and then saw a speeding car run the red light or the time that I felt strongly not to go out into the night and realized later that the road was not safe for driving on? “Was it God who was prompting me not to do what I was about to do?” I believe yes it was and the Bible is full of occasions where God sent his guardian angels to protect, guide, minister to and keep safe his children. When I failed to say thank you for these things, it was I who focused too much on myself, and the situation rather than on thanking God for his kindness, protection, and generosity. “Please Father, give me a heart of thankfulness today by opening my eyes, ears and heart to your guiding presence.”