“What if we woke up in the morning to find only the things we expressed gratitude for in our prayers the night before?” That meme on Facebook caused me to reflect on my own state of gratitude. How often do I really make a mental list of things I have like I would on an insurance adjustment after a natural disaster where I would be paid for each item in a cash settlement? Those are just physical items. What about all the miracles big and small that I just pass over with a thought of, “Wow, that was nice,” or “I wonder how that happened?” 

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Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writ...

When I was an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University, my friends and I went to a restaurant and ordered food. After we finished, we realized we did not have money to leave a tip. We were poor and struggling students, so we decided to write a note of appreciation instead. It was a simple note of thanks for the food and the service. We signed it, NAU students. We left feeling a little embarrassed at our choice. The next time we came to the restaurant, there was our note taped in a conspicuous place under the glass for all to see. We had no clue that it would mean so much to the proprietor. He wanted everyone to see our note. Everyone who came into the restaurant caught sight of our clumsily penned words. 

Gratitude is powerful. Even Jesus noticed the ingratitude of the 10 lepers he healed. Only one came back to say, “Thank you.”  The other nine saw the miracle and never looked back. The one who chose to come back received an extra blessing because he was willing to express gratitude. He owned the miracle. He saw and felt the disease leave his body. He saw the love in the Savior’s eyes as he gazed into them through tear-stained eyes. He felt the touch of the Savior’s hands as He raised him from his knees. The other nine lost the moment and would never be able to regain that experience.

I wonder what we lose in the rush of receiving. When Jesus asked about the other nine, I am sure He felt unappreciated. There were probably many times people received blessings from Him then hurried away without a backwards glance of gratitude. Even today, we go merrily on our way, thinking of our own lives, seldom turning our thoughts to the one who gave everything. We pass over His death on the cross as an Easter discussion, His birth a Christmas memory and His life a dusty biblical narrative.

I wonder how He must feel when we, like the nine lepers, march over the hill without so much as a smile and wave. He must feel sorrow when we grumble about our circumstances when we have more than all the kings and queens of old. We have air-conditioned houses with inch-deep carpets on our floors. We have running water, bathrooms with toilets, showers and tubs. Our pantries are full of food and our garages with cars that take us wherever we want to go with a turn of the key. We do not even have to hitch up the horses. We have phones that connect us to the world and to the far reaches of our imaginations. We curse and complain because we must wait in traffic. We look in our closets filled with a plethora of styles and colors, yet we turn up our noses and say, “I don’t have anything to wear.” We are the healthiest people in the world, yet we whine that we have a headache and go to the cupboard to choose from abundant types of over-the-counter pain relievers. I wonder what He thinks.


It is not only Jesus who must feel the sting of ingratitude. The pilgrims as they look down from their perch in heaven must shake their heads as they see people deface monuments and champion the death of the unborn. They would have given anything as they stood over graves in the silent snow to hold a little one in their arms once more. What do the pilgrims think of our feast on Thanksgiving that has become a time to discuss the size of the turkey and the pumpkin pie rather than the blessings freely given by those who had so little in worldly possessions to give.

I also wonder about our Founding Fathers who spilled the best blood of a generation to purchase our freedom from monarchy and tyranny. What do they think of those who are leading us on a fast track to a government much worse and of those who embrace principles of entitlement and victimhood? I wonder if our Founding Fathers wonder, “Where is the boot-strap principle of the American dream? Where are those who will plant their feet firmly in the tradition of ‘six days shalt thou labour'?" I wonder what they see as the national debt rises to implosion levels. I am sure they moan with the knowledge of where it will take us. They know that a nation that depends on the government for basic needs will end in starvation and sorrow. Ask the Germans under Hitler. Ask the people of Cuba. Ask Venezuela.

Where is the gratitude for what our Founding Fathers gave us? Where is the gratitude for the Constitution that gave us equality under the law? Where is the gratitude for those who died on the battlefields?

Jesus was not being selfish when He wondered about the nine lepers. Gratitude is a healer as well as a welding link between the giver and the receiver. Thanksgiving was designed as a sacred time to remember those who gave so much. If we forget their sacrifices, we remember only what we do not have. If we do not take time to express our gratitude, we feel the heaviness of things we do not have. We see a never-ending stream of what we wish we had, and our loneliness and selfishness grow in proportion to our unfulfilled desires. The more we focus on our wants versus our haves, the more we feel dissatisfied and disgruntled by our situation.

Gratitude ties our hearts to other people. We cannot really be grateful for something that does not involve other people. Every book that was ever written, every invention that was ever marketed and every person who was healed in the medical profession stood in a long chain of people who paved the way. The Bible would be nothing without the words inside. The prophets and historians wrote the information on scrolls and handed them down from one person to another. Someone thought enough about God’s word to translate the words into English. The fact that I can read is a miracle. My first grade teacher helped me make sense of the chicken-scratch lines on a paper, and she headed an endless line of teachers who taught me not only to read but to comprehend what I was reading. Authors authored books on my reading level so that I could practice until I was able to read the scriptures on my own. Other masterminds invented paper, pencils, ink, pens, typewriters and finally, computers. The list is endless.

So often we do not take time to think. We just meander through life with daily agendas floating around in our brains. We think about what we must do, where we are going, what we will fix for dinner, when the kids come home, about careers and retirement. We spend our time watching ads of the inventions of others wishing we could afford this gadget or that one instead of thinking of the miracles and wonders we already possess. Thanksgiving would be a suitable time to make a list of all the people who have enriched our lives, but it would be better to open our minds to see times where we can express gratitude every day. We will find, like the restaurant proprietor, people who place more value on a handwritten note than on a $100 tip. We will never know the power of gratitude, but God will open a well in our hearts that will always be filled with sweetness and love as we feel the smile of Jesus shine upon us as it did on the leper who fell at His feet with gratitude.