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The original reason for gratitude

`THE little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.''1 I can't help picturing the Psalmist high up on one of those gentle hills looking out over valleys of sweet grain, reveling in the beauty of the pastures clothed with the backs of lambs. I can't help imagining him singing his psalm from the top of his voice so that an echo of joy could be heard on every side. And I can't help thinking, from the enduring nature of his psalm, that his joy came from God alone, a God he knew well and adored. A God he rejoiced in -- because He is God.

The spirit of many of the psalms certainly gives God more credit for the good in people's lives than is often given Him today. And many of the psalms indicate a turning back to God rather than back to material things as a result of the good received. It's natural to glorify God. Perhaps that's what makes Thanksgiving so distinctly special, unencumbered as it is in things. It turns the heart toward God. When we turn to God, we turn to the highest, the greatest, the original reason for gratitude, and our hearts know it! There's no other feeling like love for God. It's a type of ``no strings attached'' joy. The joy that might cause a woodland bird to burst naturally into song, or cause a deer to bound through a meadow or a man to sing with delight of valleys and corn and lambs.

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While it's obviously natural and important to thank God for all the outward evidences of good in our lives, it's when we begin to go beyond gratitude for things that we find the reason for gratitude itself. True gratitude teaches the nature of God. It heightens our sense of good beyond mere human fortune to a more spiritual sense that acknowledges good as the very nature of being. It begins to reveal God's unvarying, unconditional bestowal of good for all His creation.

Such gratitude by no means suggests an ignoring of hardships and unhealed evils of the world. Rather it challenges the supposed necessity and legitimacy of the world's deprivations.

Gratitude has long stirred people's hearts to lift them out of the hard times. Gratitude in its deepest sense includes an understanding that the source of good is God. It might be thought of as a bugle call that turns us to God rather than to fallible material resources to care for our deepest needs. And because of that, gratitude progressively releases us from a preoccupation with and relentless pursuit of the things of this world. It enables us to find a deeper and more consistent well-being that has its roots in spiritual wholeness. And this is the ``grace'' of gratitude. It ushers into our experience, in unimaginable ways sometimes, the beauty of lasting spiritual good. Ultimately, then, gratitude must turn us to see and accept spiritual reality, to acknowledge wholeheartedly God as the source of all the good there is or can be and man as the perfect spiritual likeness of God, sustained by Him eternally.

Gratitude gave Christ Jesus unwavering confidence in divine goodness and present spiritual reality, enabling him to prove God's care even in the most dire circumstances. It enabled followers such as Paul to joy in tribulation, certain of the inevitable outcome of good.

Centuries later the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, would write, ``The maximum of good is the infinite God and His idea, the All-in-all.''2

Such a recognition of God's nature fills our hearts with gratitude. In that understanding we glimpse the promise of blessing, peace, and prosperity for all humanity.

1Psalms 65:12, 13. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 103.

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You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. Psalms 95:1,2

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