Luke 17:11-37 (AD 30)
“Now on his way to Jerusalem…” begins our reading. This is the journey for which Jesus ‘set his face’ as older translations described the manner of his setting out, in Luke 9:51. Jesus’ friends and family were concerned at the risks of seemingly putting his head in the lion’s mouth by going to Jerusalem where his enemies – and their power – were concentrated. Jesus wasn’t concerned about the risks, but he was increasingly burdened by the certainty of what he was about to go through. Hence the need to ‘set his face’…
As he travelled, with that ominous cloud of destiny hanging over him, Jesus continued to minister to people in need, including in today’s story, some people of stunning ingratitude. People who were miraculously healed by Jesus…but kinda forgot about it, and him.
Have you ever prayed for healing or relief from pain, maybe even earnestly, and when your prayers were answered you completely forget that it was God who answered your prayers? Maybe you meant, “Stop the pain NOW”, and when God didn’t do that you figured the subsequent healing was ‘natural’, or ‘by itself’ and not really anything to do with God. We ask for an uncommon miracles and instead we received the regular, everyday miracles of an immune system…
We tend to deny God the credit for things that don’t look like miracles, and complacency can set in very quickly, and early. So it was with nine of the ten healed of leprosy.
Personally, I can’t imagine being as ungrateful as they were. Although perhaps, in reality, I have a veneer of politeness while my heart-deep gratitude runs thin.
As with all instances of sinful behaviour by people who are not demon-possessed, we do well to remind ourselves that we are as vulnerable to similar temptations, just like here with the sin of ingratitude. So how do we guard ourselves against complacency or ingratitude? Here are a few suggestions:
- Write down every day what you ask God for…
- …then write down the answers he gives you, when he gives them to you
- Thank God for the ‘Yes’, the ‘No’ and the ‘Wait’, knowing as you do that he has given the best answer, even if you don’t like it.
- Include specific thanks as a part of ALL of your prayers
- Regularly thank people for what they do that benefits you or others
- If something is worth asking God for once, then it’s worth asking him for it twenty times
- Tell God why you want the thing you’re asking him for
- Ask him for patience in waiting for an answer, and for gratitude when you get the answer – whatever that is
- Ask him for big things
- Ask him for small things
- Pray with other people, including making church Prayer Meetings a priority
- Thank God for other people
You can’t do things to make yourself grateful – that comes from an awareness of who God is, who you are and what he’s done for you. But our habits have a massive impact on our attitudes, and consciously adopting some of the habits while point us in the direction of gratitude on a regular basis.