Though we’re well past the November observance of Thanksgiving, I would like for us to look the neglect of thankfulness. The problem of ingratitude is worldwide and a characteristic of many, often including even God’s people.
A familiar incident in the life of Jesus, both joyous and sad, finds Jesus traveling toward Jerusalem, the regions of Samaria and Galilee to the north (See Luke 17:11-19). In one village, a group of 10 lepers saw Jesus and called out to him from a distance, asking to be healed. Seeing and hearing them, the Master demonstrated his compassion, tell them to go and show themselves to the priests, as was the practice for someone who had been cleansed (Leviticus 13-14).
As they were leaving, they were cleansed. What a joyous occasion this was for these men moments before they had been among the outcasts of society, not even able to approach normal people, but forced to live in isolation.
But it was also a time of sadness and reflection, since only one of them felt a compulsion to turn back and praised God and gave thanks to Jesus. Only one out of 10. How shocking, that the other nine could be so unthinking. Jesus was amazed, asking, “Were not 10 cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (He was a Samaritan, whom the Israelites despised because of their mutual background.) Certainly, the nine were guilty of the sin of ingratitude.
There are numerous other examples of ingratitude in scripture, recorded to help us overcome it.
Husbands and wives can exhibit ingratitude toward their companions by treating them unkindly and thoughtlessly. Children can show ingratitude toward their parents. Virtually every human relationship is subject to ingratitude.
Author, journalist and playwright Fulton Ousler (1892-1952) vividly remembered his elderly nurse, Anna Marie Cecily Sophi Virginia Avalon Thessalonians (“Annie,” for short!). She was employed by his family at least as far back as his grandparents, and had been present when both his mother and he were born.
One of the things he remembered most about her was her simple prayer at mealtime: “Much obliged, Lord, for my vittles.” Ousler asked her to explain what a “vittle” is.
Annie replied, “It’s what you got to eat and drink, that’s vittles.” Still puzzled, he said, “But you’d get your vittles whether you thanked the Lord or not.”
And then she answered, “Sure, but it makes everything taste better.” *
Let us say with the Psalmist, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).