Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner? — Luke 17:18
Learning to say “thank you” can be a hard lesson. Sure, sometimes we just drop off those words to someone without even thinking about the meaning, but a real deep sense of gratitude is something that has to be cultivated. As a kid, I remember having to write thank you notes to family and friends for birthday or Christmas presents. I would rather have been cleaning the bathroom, and I made it clear that my preference would be anything else. Eventually my parents left me to my own devices. We make our children write thank you notes for presents they receive before they are allowed to play with them. This year, I think some of my daughter’s birthday presents lasted two and a half weeks in their original packaging before she was allowed to play with them. As adults we aren’t much better. Why is it so hard?
I think partially we are conditioned to having nice things. My family has more than we need (we try not to listen to the advertisers), so gratitude can be harder to draw out from our children. I think as adults we sometimes find it difficult to acknowledge that we haven’t earned or are in some way worthy of all the good things we get. I learned to say thank you by spending time with people who cultivate gratitude in their lives. I was impressed by their charm and their realization that the world isn’t all about them. Their gratitude rubbed off on other aspects of their character.
I was once told by an employer that I should be writing at least one hand written thank you note a week. And if I didn’t have someone to say thank you to at least once a week, then I wasn’t doing my job very well. That certainly applies to us as people of faith. We gather once a week for a worship celebration where we give thanks to God. Why? Certainly we give thanks for our salvation that is new each morning. We also have a mission, a job, from God (to share the good news in all the ways that we can). If we are living out that mission each week there will always be some reason to say thank you to God.