Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

He Came Back with a Thankful Heart

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"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! For His merciful kindness is great toward us and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord" (Psalm 117:1-2).

Many people moved to North America in the early seventies and missed their family and friends in Egypt tremendously. They do not have any way to be contact them except through writing letters and sadly that takes over a month to send and receive one letter and find out any news about their loved ones.

Through our busy lives and commitments, we tend to forget how much more we are blessed than our past generations. Many things now are available to us and in reach of our hands such as an electronic gadget that can connect us with our loved ones anywhere in the world in a second, the comforts of our home such as the air conditioner, answering machine, cordless phone, microwave, washing and drying machines, refrigerator…etc. and also our own cars and the navigators that make it easy for us to travel from one place to another and allows us to reach our destinations in more ease and comfort.

And through all this we overlook the opportunity to come back and give thanks to God for His many blessings that we have received from Him and all what we have.

"Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!'" (Luke 17:11-13).

When we read this passage we can clearly see their agony and distress. These people left their homes, their loved ones and are cast off outside the city walls waiting for their lives to be over. Leprosy, at that time, was very a dangerous disease and terrified humanity for a long time. It was considered a curse from God and often associated in the Old Testament with sin.

Whoever got it was cast off from society and could not be approached by anyone because he was considered an unclean person and required to sit in the street unclean.

Also this disease slowly will cause deformation in the body and make the person's features unrecognizable due to extensive nerve damage and will destroy the nerve that causes pain signals to the brain and the person slowly will lose all feeling of physical pain.

Similar to leprosy, the spread of sins have horrible effect on the person who commits sins. It starts out small but gradually spreads. Without the feeling of guilt and suffering for the wrong that we are doing, we cannot heal or come back with repentance. Instead sins will take over our life and will end up causing us to separate from God and others resulting in us waiting to be cast off.

So when they lifted up their voices to Jesus Christ and said save us, they were in the stage of desperation. They needed Him to save them from the ultimate ending.

"So when He saw them, He said to them, 'Go, show your selves to the priests.' And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed" (Luke 17:14).

In the Old Testament we see that due to the danger of that disease, the person who is infected or has any kind of rash has to go by law and show himself to the priest and the priest will examine him and then isolate him for seven days. After that the priest will examine him again to see if he is infected or not then pronounce if the person is clean or unclean.

Our Lord Jesus Christ always treated the unclean people with compassion and dignity; He will talk to them, touch them, and heal them. So when He saw the ten lepers crying out to Him, He told them to go and show themselves to the priest as he will be the one to announce if they are clean or unclean. And they all obeyed Him.

"And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving him thanks. And He was the Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?'" (Luke 17:15-17).

Here we clearly see that our Lord Jesus Christ had the same compassion for all of them and all of them were healed before they reached the priest but sadly only one recognize what just happened and with a grateful heart came back to glorify Jesus and give Him thanks!

Here we stop and wonder, why only one came back?

  • Did they need to be assured by the priest that they got cured?
  • Did they really believe that Jesus is the one who cured them?
  • Did they think it was God's miracle not Jesus Christ?
  • Did they glorify the priest instead?
  • Maybe they were worried if they go back they will lose His blessing by disobeying Him.
  • Maybe they thought it is not a big deal to say thank you to the very one who made them well.
  • And maybe they went on with their lives like nothing had happened.

We try to make sense out of the situation and we neglect to realize that many times we beg and diligently ask God for a certain situation or to cure a disease or we are needing something desperately from Him, or we ask Him to grant us certain blessings and when He granted our wish for us, we do that same act every single time.

  • When we neglect to come back and say thank you to God
  • When we are too tired to stand and pray
  • When we think what happened was pure luck
  • When we think that what happened is because the priest prayed for us or a friend was too kind
  • When we lack a grateful heart toward God or another
  • When we only want to take but not willing to give
  • When we take things for granted

Our Lord Jesus is an amazing God, for He knew the heart of each one of those ten lepers and He knew who will come back with a heart full of gratitude and who will not but He still healed all of them the same. Because His love and longing for all His children is the same.

And that tell us that we are the one who chooses to come back with our freewill or not, we are the one who chooses to treat each one the same like our Lord even those we know they will never recognize what we did for them and never come back and give us thanks.

"Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And He said to him, 'Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.'" (Luke 17:18-19).

Sadly the Samaritan which was the non-believer simply came to say thanks with a heart full of gratitude and yet the children of God took things for granted.

When was the last time you thanked someone? A complete stranger, your children's Sunday school teacher, people who help in the kitchen on Sunday, people who volunteer to clean your church or a coworker who went out of his way to do something nice at work?

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever" (Psalm 30:11-12).

Finally, make it a habit in your life to realize others' effort with an acknowledgment or positive feedback or a simple thanks which can make a difference to your life or someone else's and maybe to stop at least once a day to say thanks to God for watching over you and your family all day long or for saving you from all sorts of problems, or for granting you or your family many blessings...etc.

Written by
Nagwa Abdou

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