The Day Thanks Went Missing

By Matt Bell

Think about one of the greatest gifts you have received. I am not talking about something you found under the tree one Christmas morning. Think bigger, more miraculous. Maybe it was a time when you were out of work and a job materialized that could not be traced to all the resumes you sent out. Or when you were sick and got better much faster than the doctors thought you would. Or when you were very worried about you cared for and through a series of circumstances you still cannot understand, the problem was resolved. What was your response? Weren’t you so incredibly thankful?

Where are the other nine? Our pastor recently reminded us of one of the most amazing acts of healing recorded in the Bible. It was followed by an equally amazing response by most that were healed. But what made their response so stunning was it was not at all what anyone would have expected:

“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 are 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’” (Luke 17:11-19).

No thanks except from one. When Jesus used parables to make his points, sometimes people misunderstood what He meant. But there was no misunderstanding His question about the other nine men. Where were they? There is no indication that He was angry or yelling. Yet that simple question cuts to the core in a way a raised voice or shaken fist never could. These people were healed. Not of a limp, but of leprosy! Not of the flu, but of a disease that had left them disfigured, shunned, and shamed. Nine of the 10 expressed no gratitude. It was the day thanks went missing.

Things get in the way. I do not know what was going on in the hearts of those nine men. But I have a guess, based on happens whenever thanks goes missing from my life. Sometimes it can be obvious, like the times I am driving down the road in our minivan and I see a car I would much rather be driving. It can also be more subtle, discontent from living among others who have more. At other times, thanks goes missing because of busyness or a lack of urgency. I can think of thank-you notes I have been meaning to write – for months. What am I waiting for? Is an update to my social media page more important?

A simple word can mean so much. Who do you need to thank? With American Thanksgiving coming for many of us this week, it is an especially appropriate time to consider such a question. Is there a teacher who made a difference in your life? Both of my parents were teachers, so I know how much a heartfelt “thank you” from a former student would mean. Who else? Who helped you get to where you are – maybe years ago? Who makes your life better just by being in it? Have you thanked these people? Have you thanked God for the wonderful gifts they are to you?

Thanksgiving Day is a special day designated for remembering all that we feel thankful for, but why should we limit our thanks to one day. In His Word, God tells us, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This “attitude of gratitude” should be present in us every day.

© 2022. Matt Bell is Sound Mind Investing’s Managing Editor. He is the author of 4 personal finance books and two video-based small group resources. Matt speaks at churches and universities throughout the country and has been quoted in USA TODAY, U.S. News & World Report, and many other media outlets.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Matt Bell asks about special, even miraculous, gifts we have received in our lives. What gifts can you think of that have been miraculous – or close to it – in your life?
  2. The story about Jesus Christ healing 10 lepers but only one returning to express thanks is powerful. What is your reaction to this story? How do you think you would have responded?
  3. Can you think of people – past or present – who deserve your thanks, but for whatever reason you have not yet expressed thankfulness for what they have done for you? If so, who might they be – and how can you correct the “missing thanks”?
  4. Ultimately, a day of thanksgiving is a reminder to consider all that God has done for us. What are some things He has given you or done in your life for which you can be especially thankful?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

Psalm 69:30-33, 95:1-2, 100:4-5, 105:19-22; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Timothy 4:4-5