A story from ancient times was portrayed in a poem about two angels sent down to Earth to collect the prayers of humanity. The first angel was asked to gather only the prayers of petition, while the other was to collect the prayers of thanksgiving. The first angel almost collapsed under the load of requests and reported that he was only able to bring only a small portion of the prayers he gathered. The angel tasked with collecting thanksgiving prayers returned as well, deeply saddened with only three prayers of thanks.
God, in His great kindness and patience, “has caused His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and has caused it to rain on the just and on the unjust” (see Matthew 5:45). He has showered His blessings on all without ceasing, and yet so few think to do what the Samaritan, who was healed of his leprosy, did. We read of him, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:15-16). None of the others who were healed came back to thank Him! No wonder the Lord exclaimed, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17)
Of course, one cannot expect a song of praise and thanksgiving from someone who won’t acknowledge the workings of a personal God in the whole universe, but instead attributes everything to blind forces of nature. It is sad when God seeks a grateful heart in vain from those who know that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Often, among these, the ungrateful attitude of those nine can be found. The psalmist exhorts us in the 103rd Psalm, verse 2: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
Knowing that God will provide for us from His great storehouse and treasury, there is no need for the tormenting spirit of worry, which anxiously asks, “ ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matthew 6:31). Rather, “he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).
Whoever places such trust in his heavenly Father and knows he is held by the hand of God will be grateful and satisfied. Blessed is the man who has learned to speak with the apostle Paul: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Yes, through Christ, the apostle was able to live such a life!
We often repeat these words of the apostle but rarely relate it to the seemingly small, unimportant everyday needs of our lives. Our spiritual life may be influenced by the disposition and situation of the people with whom we interact.
How many people, even Christians, are found among those to whom Jesus’ question applies: “But where are the nine?” Therefore, let us join in with the psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits!”