Vol 3 No. 41 Wondering What I Forgot This Thanksgiving

Here is a text, which will be familiar.

Luke 17:11-19 (New International Version)

Ten Healed of Leprosy 

11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a]met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”


I want you to know that I am rarely the leper in this passage who comes back to Jesus to thank Him. I am more commonly found in the group of nine who, preoccupied with their relief at being healed, have quickly moved on to the superficial preoccupations of their lives.

Like them, I am daily healed and renewed by a living God, who knows my need. Like them, too, I have a deep-seated forgetfulness that is rooted in my old nature, which is at root narcissistic. Narcissism, as you remember, is not simply a form of self –absorption.  While it is very complicated, it is essentially a form of self-idolatry. You may remember the nasty quip from Winston Churchill about Stafford Cripps when he said of Cripps “There but for the grace of God goes God”. I know that there are many of you who do not feel that the indictment of this passage applies to you. You regularly turn to God as a pattern of your prayer and conversation with thanksgiving and adoration. I know many people to be like that. I am not one of them.

So this thanksgiving, I simply offer you this passage. Not in condemnation or criticism, but as a simple encouragement and a signpost of grace. I am tempted to tell you of the many things that I am thankful for, but I often find it easier to tell others of my thankfulness, while forgetting to thank God. My thankfulness, therefore, becomes a form of spiritual exhibitionism. I’d rather receive the accolades of others for being thankful, than to offer my thankfulness in worship to the God I am indebted to. And so for my first thanksgiving letter in many years, I will leave you to thank the Lord for the many great and wonderful things He has given you and I will spend some time this week, in the aftermath of thanksgiving, talking to the Lord Himself about what I am thankful for, because that’s what I need to learn to do.



In Christ

Jeremy Bell