Turning Back to Say Thanks

by Dr. Katherine Hutchinson Hayes


“And one of [the lepers], when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. And fell down on his face at [Jesus’] feet, giving him thanks”

(Luke 17:15-16, KJV).


My administrative career started with a bang. A large, prestigious school district employed me as an assistant principal right after I completed my doctoral program. A year later, I became a principal at a high-profile K-8—record time for that fast a promotion. I joined several district committees, wrote a magazine column, and guest lectured for my formal doctoral program. My dreams unfolded as I’d planned and I anticipated more success—maybe even a superintendent position.


Several years later, a new baby, a sudden illness, and my husband’s deployments made family my priority. I left a profession which demanded eighty-hour work weeks and through no one’s fault, my career paused.


I began to imagine a life as a full-time author. At first, I worked as an educational consultant and wrote curriculum, and networked with other writers to develop my craft. Opportunities opened to speak, work as a ministry leader, and cowrite a Bible study with a pastor’s wife. Then I branched out to write for magazines and penned a general market thriller. Now I shop literary agencies for my latest fiction project—the first of many steps in the traditional publishing process. Publication seems distant. Discouragement, delays, and redirections tempt me to impatience and ingratitude for my journey.


The lepers in Luke 17: 15-16 certainly faced changes in careers and dreams after disease derailed their lives. Their stigmatized condition shifted their plans and priorities, as well as their finances and friendships. But Jesus brought hope of healing and a reversal of their isolation. Anticipating restoration, the men gladly obeyed his command. Yet, after their healing, only one returned to thank him. Sadly, with their hopes fulfilled, all but one forgot Jesus.


Their ingratitude convicts me that I, too, forget God’s faithfulness. I find myself looking toward my next goal and fail to thank God who has brought me through many challenges and given me the ability to achieve. Like me, are there things, people, and circumstances from which God has delivered you? Have you forgotten to thank him? How do you remind yourself to display a grateful heart?


When we face unexpected challenges, we must refocus in an instant. Whether we have security and prosperity or hardship and disappointment, God deserves our thanks.

 Dear Father, great is your faithfulness to me. No matter what, remind me to praise your name. Show me how to express my gratitude for the valley and the mountaintop. Show me how to put all my hope in you. Amen.


Katherine is a counselor, consultant, author, and owns an event-planning business. Her  art and writing are distinguished by awards including the New York Mayor’s Contribution to the Arts, Outstanding Resident Artist of Arizona, and Foundations Awards at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference.  Katherine loves speaking to groups, delivering messages with quick wit and real-life stories. Connect at https://godslittleblackdress.com/ or https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Little-Black-Dress-Women/dp/1365056163

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