It had been a tough life for the Samaritan man. His people were already looked down upon in Jewish society, but then came the fateful diagnosis: leprosy. It not only meant a slow death, but also quarantine. Not just rejected, he was now cast out of society entirely.
But then everything changed when the man called Jesus came to town. With his fellow lepers, he cried out to the Master. Jesus not only heard, but He responded. He healed them and sent them to the priests. And, awed at their healing, they rushed away -- all but one.
When he saw he had been healed, the Samaritan immediately rushed back. The man who had faced so much rejection could help himself no longer -- he threw himself at the feet of Jesus and worshipped Him, filled with gratitude. When Jesus saw his thankfulness, He acknowledged the fact that he was the only one who had returned to give thanks. And then He said the most incredible words: "Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole." (Luke 17:19).
The Samaritan leper's story is such a powerful example of what thankfulness can do in our lives. All of the lepers were healed of leprosy, but the disease had left its impact on them. Their bodies still bore the marks, even though the disease had been cast out. But when the Samaritan's heart overflowed with gratitude, he was made whole. It was more than healing. It was a step beyond. Healing can bring an end to pain, but gratitude has the tremendous power to restore and to make us feel whole, even in the midst of trials.