“Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him.” ~ Luke 17:15-16
Undoubtedly, He knew they were grateful. And He had dismissed them Himself. “Go,” He said. “Show yourselves to the priests.”
Ten leprous men called out to Jesus for mercy. Graciously, He sent them to visit the priests so they could pronounce them well, and as the men went, they were cleansed from their disease. One, realizing what had happened, ran right back to Jesus, gushing with gratitude. (You can read the whole story here. It’s worth a pre-Thanksgiving read; trust me!)
The nine lepers who didn’t return to tell Jesus “thank you” were not wicked men. In fact, they called Jesus “Lord” when many had not yet appreciated His authority. And they were men of faith. As they obeyed Jesus’ instructions by faith, they were cleansed of their leprosy.
And they probably weren’t unappreciative or self-centered either. I imagine they even gladly told others that it was Jesus who had healed them. I don’t think the familiar account of Jesus healing the ten lepers in Luke 17 is about lacking gratitude. How could they help but feel gloriously grateful?
It’s not a matter of feeling grateful
Yes, I’m pretty sure all ten men were grateful beyond words. But only one attempted to string a few words together to express his gratitude to Jesus. And did you notice the added blessing this man received? At first glance it may seem inconsequential, redundant even. Actually, it’s anything but.
Because this man turned back and gushed out his thanksgiving to Jesus, his soul was made well. Did you notice the different words used to describe the lepers’ physical healing – “they were cleansed” – and the healing of this one man’s relationship with his Creator – “your faith has made you well”? Jesus was telling this one man that he had been graciously and miraculously reconciled with his God.
Just what did the man say?
We don’t even know exactly what the lone man who returned said to Jesus. I don’t think that matters so much either. Often the giving of thanks feels awkward and our words come out clumsy. Maybe our verbal expressions even tumble forth in incomplete sentences and, heaven forbid, sentimental gushes. It feels sloppy and a little silly and very vulnerable.
Maybe that’s why many of us, most of us, sometimes fail to say, “I appreciate that.”
Or maybe it’s because we just assume they know. Surely they know, right? How could they not know?
But it turns out that simply taking the time to say some form of “thank you” ushers in health and intimacy and reciprocity and life to a relationship like nothing else.
What we’re really saying.
When we tell someone thank you for the gift or the act of kindness, our words convey more than we think. We’re acknowledging:
- time spent
- sacrifice made
- moments shared
- kindness given
- need met
- gap filled
- questions answered
- words spoken
- intimacy experienced
- courage infused
- anxiety abated
- peace restored
- companionship enjoyed
- dream fulfilled
- longing satisfied
- joy imparted
And that’s why it matters that we say, “I appreciate that.” We’re acknowledging that the other person – or our Maker – has reached into our life and engaged us in a significant way.
Think about this one final thing.
Gratitude expressed is the key to healing our relationships. Here’s why. Unexpressed gratitude, regardless of how deeply we feel it, communicates ingratitude, and it can even feel like rejection. When my husband takes my car for the day, fills it up with gas for me, runs it through the car wash and even vacuums it out, his sweet service is certainly noteworthy. But if days go by and I never tell him I appreciate what he has done, he begins to feel unappreciated. I may have told my girlfriends what my hubby did and even bragged about him to my mom. But if I haven’t told him, it won’t matter. I may feel appreciative, but if I haven’t said it to him, he won’t feel appreciated.
And if I neglect to verbalize appreciation the next week and the next week and the following week for similar acts of above-and-beyond kindness, he doesn’t just assume I’m ungrateful, but he even begins to suspect that I am rejecting him as a person of significance to me.
When we express our appreciation for an act of service or gift, we actually affirm the value of the person who has served or given to us. We’re acknowledging that they, not just the act or gift they have given, matter to us.
Truth is, I’m grateful. You’re grateful. He is and she is and they are. But it’s not enough to be grateful. We need to express it. And we need to express it to the person to whom we are grateful.When I feel grateful, I'm healthy. When I express gratitude, we have a healthy relationship. Click To Tweet
Expressing gratitude is simply good. It’s good for me and it’s especially good for the person whom I thank. More significantly, it’s good for us. Us friends, us married folks, us family members, us coworkers, us church members. It strengthens us because it closes the loop of give and take, generosity and gratitude. It seals our hearts to one another as we grow in mutual trust. I feel that I can serve you wholeheartedly or give sacrificially or share without reservation…because I can trust that you will appreciate the gift and value me. And that kind of trust develops the sweetest, most natural kind of intimacy.Gratitude expressed develops trust and intimacy. Gratitude unexpressed feels like rejection. Click To Tweet
And that, dear friend, is why it is equally important for me-like the one man healed from leprosy who returned-to express my gratitude to Jesus. When I express my thanks to Jesus it builds trust and intimacy between us. And isn’t that something we long for?
Not just on Thanksgiving, but every day, let’s tell God thank you. Still, Thanksgiving is a good day to say thanks, too. After all, it is called, appropriately, Thanksgiving and not just Thanksfeeling.
What are you doing this Thanksgiving? How will you ensure that you and your household pause to actually express your thanks? I’d love to hear from you. And have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!
Don’t forget those Thanksgiving goodies at this link. And the password is THANKSGIVING .