Where gratitude can take you
A Christian Science perspective: A spiritual perspective on Thanksgiving and the power of gratitude.
We may sometimes feel hard-pressed to find anything for which to be grateful. We may not see the value of true thanksgiving or even be thinking of gratitude because times are tough. That was the case for my grandfather during the height of the Great Depression in the United States.
My grandfather was responsible for the family business, as well as providing for his parents, his wife, and several small children. When the Stock Market Crash of 1929 hit, it was just as the history books recorded it. Many people, including some of his own friends, had lost a tremendous amount financially and were so panicked about not being able to provide for their families that they took their own lives. My grandfather was feeling that same despair.
At this critical point, his mother suggested that he look into Christian Science for a healing answer. She was not a Christian Scientist herself but had heard about it. Feeling he had nothing to lose, my grandfather went to a telephone booth and called the first Christian Science practitioner listed in the phone book.
The practitioner agreed to pray for my grandfather and asked him to go home and make a list of everything he had to be grateful for. Under the circumstances, he couldn’t imagine what that might be, but he was willing. Once he got started, he began to realize how much good there really was in his life. This helped lift his thought, and he quickly found a new, spiritual sense of reassurance – he felt God’s love for him and knew that he could trust the Father to provide a solution.
With gratitude that then knew no bounds, my grandfather saw that his “cup runneth over” (Psalms 23:5). In just a short time, the business was thriving. In fact, it did so well that he was able to hire two new employees, who worked at his store for many years. In addition, decades later, it was revealed that my grandfather sent the dear practitioner who had prayed with him a check every month for the rest of her life, simply because he was so very grateful. Such an abundance of good all stemmed from making a sincere effort to be thankful.
It wasn’t the exercise of making a list that turned things around but the awakening of thought to God’s lovingkindness that brought the effect of the Christ, the power of God that brings healing. This allowed my grandfather to understand that God was caring for him right then and there and would continue to do so. Both of my grandparents then took up the study of Christian Science, began attending Christian Science church services, and eventually enrolled one of their children in the Christian Science Sunday School.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, asks a question in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Are we really grateful for the good already received?” She then states, “Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more” (p. 3). Giving God thanks contributes to health, prosperity, and progress in life.
Mrs. Eddy considered thanksgiving to be so significant that her “Church Manual” provides for Thanksgiving Day church services during which a Bible lesson is read and the service is opened up for expressions of gratitude. It is an uplifting opportunity to give to God, divine Love, praise for all that He has done.
When our hearts are heavy, taking the time to be grateful can make a difference. Just as it did for my grandfather, humbly giving thanks to God helps uplift thought to higher spiritual understanding, which leads to healing. We gain so much by appreciating all of the good and recognizing good as evidence of God’s love and provision.
As Hymn 199 from the “Christian Science Hymnal” reminds us:
Now thank we all our God
With grateful hearts and voices
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom the world rejoices;
Who from the days of yore
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today. (Martin Rinkart; Catherine Winkworth, Tr., adapted © CSBD)