“And it came to pass, as he (Jesus) went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17: 11-19).
The biblical story of the healing of ten lepers shows how quickly we forget any spiritual light that comes into our human experience. No doubt, the lepers had hoped and prayed for deliverance from their dreaded disease, since the medical establishment of their times had written them off, even before the disease appeared on their skin. So, probably, with no where else to go, they sought out a spiritual healer, just in case it worked.
And work it did. Yet, only one of the former lepers took even a moment to stop, think, and recognize that something wonderful had come their way. Only one individual knew that he had been in the presence of something that, although he didn’t comprehend it, he needed to acknowledge it. The other nine were so excited to be free of their affliction, they even forgot to briefly thank the man whose spiritual understanding was able to perform such a feat as making the disease disappear. Had they known that gratitude to God carries much more with it than mere politeness, they’d assuredly come to their senses and gone back to recognize a power they, in the darkness of human thought, couldn’t yet emulate.
Gratitude to God—what is the importance of it? Is it something we do just to “get in good” with the Almighty? Does it bring us any more blessings than are already present from the willing and able hand of infinite Love? Does it do anything for God?
Hardly. Infinite Spirit has no need for our gratitude. Do we want our infant children to thank us, every time we feed them? No. We love them and care only for their well-being. The importance of gratitude for whatever spiritual light has come into our lives is that it reminds us that our forever Source is God, the Creator, Maintainer, and Provider of all the good we can ever need. We don’t want to dismiss the spiritual component, as the nine lepers did. Every time we remember God’s invisible, loving presence and power, every time we remember a moment of faith that brought the kingdom of God into our experience, we take another step in our spiritual awakening and awareness. Moments of thanking God for Its loving care of us causes us to put this into our human ‘memory banks’ for future reference. It helps our awareness grow, so that, in the future, we’ll remember to turn to this invisible Source, whenever we humanly need to be delivered from lack of health, lack of place, lack of money, or lack of other harmony in our daily lives.
God does not afflict us; God, the Authority of the universe, delivers us from the human ills and discordant conditions which afflict us. But that deliverance is not super-natural; it is divinely natural. The deliverance which came to the lepers was only super-natural to their own darkness of perception. They didn’t recognize their own spiritual identities that were already free of all conditions of the flesh.
The lepers needed a spiritually enlightened individual to know the spiritual truth for them, since they didn’t know it for themselves. This light, within the Master, was needed. Someone has to bring spiritual truth into the illusion of materiality, or it doesn’t take form here. Notice that Jesus healed everyone, with every ill imaginable, who came to him as a representative of God. By coming to Christ Jesus for their deliverance, they were turning to God. And this way of healing could be passed on to others. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14: 12).
When the light of truth was mentally brought into the picture for the lepers, the illusion changed from physical ill-health to the illusion of physical health. Yet, it wasn’t ten material beings who were sick and then healed. Jesus’ enlightened consciousness showed the lepers that they weren’t actually capable of being sick in the first place, since they were spiritual rather than material creatures. Health doesn’t belong to the flesh; it belongs to the Spirit. Once this is realized, the physical form conforms to this spiritual truth. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 32).
Gratitude for the spiritual light, when it blesses us, has everything to do with our own spiritual progress and enlightenment. Gratitude is acknowledgement of God’s grace—the divine willingness to tend to all our needs, throughout eternity. It’s the recognition of divine Spirit’s presence and sovereign power, despite all human appearances. When something is handled through faith and trust in this presence and power, and when we remember to thank the Source of our deliverance, treasure upon treasure builds up in our storehouse of faith for the future.
The biblical account of David and Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17: 32-37) is a good example: When Goliath, the Philistine, was threatening the Israelites, David, a shepherd boy, knew that it fell to him to protect his people. Why? Because Goliath was a giant of a man, and everyone else was afraid to fight him. So, David said to Saul, the King, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” (Verse 32).
Now, Saul was skeptical. He replied to David, “Thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” (Verse 33).
But David remembered every moment of deliverance he had experienced when turning to God. He told Saul of killing a lion, and a bear, when each came to attack his sheep. Then David said to Saul, “The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (Verse 37).
David was so grateful to God for so many blessings, when called upon, that the entire book of Psalms, in the Bible, presents songs of gratitude to God, which David sang day and night. By the time Goliath came along, David’s gratitude had built his treasure of trust and faith to a level unknown to the other Israelites of his time. David was the only one to have the level of faith that defeated all fear in a power opposed to God. He knew that God was the real protector and would show him the way against the appearance of an evil power or person. Personified evil would fall before God, who allows good only in Its creation. David’s spiritual progress, his enlightenment of the spiritual truth of all things, was built upon his gratitude, and thereby remembrance, of every past blessing he had received at God’s hands.
So, centuries later, here we are, facing all the same tribulations in the world. The world of today has much to be happy about, but also much to be depressed about, if we allow the forgetfulness of God’s loving presence and power to pervade our thoughts. No doubt, those who are inclined to stay with the negative appearances will say that there are plenty of things God has never done for us…many blessings denied. Negative thinking is never grateful to anyone or any thing.
Negativity is the exact opposite of thankfulness—it is a denial of God’s love and power, rather than the acknowledgment of it. In actual fact, every past failure to heal a situation is evidence only of our own unawareness and lack of comprehension of spiritual facts, the remembrance of which would call the invisible kingdom of God, with its spiritual laws, into our human experience, transforming it in whatever way it needed to be transformed.
This is why, when finding ourselves in any threatening material situations, we should begin our response with a large ‘thank You’ to God for being ever-present, for loving us throughout all time, and for the harmony of heaven in which we really live, despite all human appearances to the contrary. We should thank divine Spirit for Its Intelligence, Wisdom and Love that preserves us, even here in the seeming material place of finiteness. We should thank God, daily, that we realize that our kingdom is not of this world; we live in the kingdom of God, even though, in the words of Paul the Apostle, “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.” (I Corinthians 13: 12).
Here’s a brief, practical account of the relationship between gratitude and blessings from God: Very recently, my husband and I wished to attend a certain event. We didn’t have to attend it, but we both really wanted to be there. All human attempts to get tickets failed. (In fact, we were literally laughed at for expecting such a thing.)
Then, as a sense of depression tried to get hold of me, I lifted my thoughts and remembered to be grateful to God, instead of feeling sorry for myself. I prayed, “Thank you, Father-Mother, for being divine Love. Thank you for all the good you’ve given me, and everyone else. Whether or not we have tickets and can go, I’m so grateful for so many other blessings, that this is a small thing.”
Within seconds the thought came to me (from a verse in the Bible) “I shall give thee the desires of your heart.” I looked this up and found that the quotation actually says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37: 4).
I then knew the tickets were coming. Sure enough, a friend of my husband emailed him and asked my husband if he would be interested in two tickets for the event. The friend told my husband that another friend had called him, and since he couldn’t use them, he thought my husband might like them. This shows that God doesn’t work separate from us, but with us.
Now, blessings like this belong to everyone who turns to God, in faith and trust. Yet, had I forgotten past blessings from God, I’d have never given that prayer of gratitude. But once I did, I was re-reminded of God, Spirit, as our infinite Source. I trusted that inner message of ‘giving me the desires of my heart’ because I knew God owns all creation, and nothing is too hard for the divine Intelligence to accomplish. If there was no current place for us at the event, I knew God would create the place. He did. We had great seats.
Infinity belongs to God, and therefore to us as Spirit’s image and likenesses. We are Spirit’s offspring—not the offspring of the flesh. We each show a face of God—collectively, in infinite variety. We are not God; but in our true, spiritual selfhood, we are each an individual, spiritual image, or Christly identity, of God. Spirit is expressing Itself through us. In creation as a whole, every one is valuable and shows forth God’s infinite Self expression. God is, indeed, all-in-all; and we have to be eternally grateful for it.