“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back praising God with a loud voice.” – Luke 17:15
The leper who is healed by Jesus, and who comes back praising God, knows something important. David Steindl-Rast says that our gratitude comes in two phases, and so, he says, “we really need different terms for our experience.” First, we have “the moments in which this gratitude wells up in our hearts…as if something were filling up within us, filling with joy, really, but not yet articulate. And then it comes to a point where our heart overflows, and we sing, and we thank somebody.” That’s “thanksgiving.” He says, “the two of them are two aspects, or two phases, actually, of the process that is gratitude.”
No doubt all of the lepers who are healed experience the first feeling. The one who comes back to Jesus gets both steps and is transformed through faith.
David Steindl-Rast adds that it is like a “vessel that is still inarticulate until it overflows… It’s like the bowl of a fountain when it fills up, and it’s very quiet and still. And then when it overflows, it starts to make noise, and it sparkles, and it ripples down. And that is really when the joy comes to itself, so to say; when it is articulate.” The tenth leper is overflowing with this gratitude.
What a beautiful image as we enter into Week 4 of our Fall Study – Why wait to give thanks?
The tenth leper is lifted through transformation in faith as he gives thanks to Jesus. More than just saying “thank you,” this is an expression of worship that shows us the Samaritan is the only one that gets the full benefit of Jesus’ healing. The others are healed, yes. The Samaritan is the one that is transformed and made whole.
Anne Lamott’s two favorite prayers are in the morning, “Help me, Help me, Help me” and in the evening, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”
May we too live in thanksgiving like the tenth leper for all that we have been given through the work of God in our lives. Amen.