Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Luke 17:17
It appears that America is going to skip thanksgiving.
No, not that day in November which is spelled with a capital “T” and celebrated with turkey and pumpkin pie. But the giving of thanks to the one who has presented a gift.
The gift in question is the rather rapid discovery of vaccines that are effective against Covid-19. The giver of the gift is God. Indeed, there have been expressions of appreciation for those who worked on the vaccines.
Parades are planned to honor those who risked their health by tending to people who were afflicted.
That is only proper.
But the Ruler of the universe should not be forgotten. He can both bring disease, and he can end it. He once told his people: “I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus15:26).
Infectious diseases have plagued humans for eons. Old Testament Law decreed that a person who broke out with leprosy must leave his family and quarantine himself with other lepers. As the disease progressed, parts of the body, such as fingers and toes, began to drop off. There was no cure. There was only the prospect of a miserable, painful, and lonely life.
One day, as Jesus was walking to a village, a group of lepers called out from a safe distance: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” They must have heard the reports of Jesus performing miraculous healings. They begged for his help.
They did not expect his response. He simply told them, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” By Law, that is what a person was to do if the symptoms of leprosy went away. If the priest saw no longer any sign of the disease, he was to pronounce the person free to return to normal life. The quarantine restriction would be lifted.
But these lepers were sent to the priest before they were cured. Their leprosy was still evident as they headed off. They needed to trust that they would be healed before they reached the point of inspection. They were. We hear: “As they went, they were cleansed.” We can imagine their joy. We can envision their eagerness to get back to family and friends and a normal life.
In their excitement and relief, we can also understand how some of them neglected to thank the one who had healed them. We understand because we easily do the same. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Those words might make us wince. Sadly, sometimes we are among the “other nine.” Like them, it isn’t that we don’t trust Jesus. We will go on record to declare that he is our Lord and Savior. We have saving faith.
But sometimes, it is also a forgetful faith, a self-centered faith. Sometimes we act as if we are entitled to special blessings from the Lord God. Sometimes we pout when we don’t get them and become ungrateful when we do.
This is more than a weakness and more serious than a mistake. To forget about thanking him is wrong. That makes it a sin. Fortunately, he has the remedy for our sin. He has forgiveness. The warrior king, David, knew this. He invites us to join him in saying, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2,3). No, we will not skip thanksgiving.
We pray: Good and gracious are you, O Lord! You have offered us healing. You have shown your mighty hand by enabling not just one vaccine for the virus that has isolated us from others but many of them. Protect us from variants that will survive vaccines. Protect our souls as well as our bodies. Thank you for all your benefits! Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military.