Gratitude

The cynic who said that "gratitude is a lively appreciation of favors to come" spoke more truly than he knew, for surely one element of true gratitude is the recognition that as God, good, is all, only good is in store for man. Gratitude is entirely a mental condition and depends not at all on the abundance of things which a man possesses, for one may have a great deal of this world's goods and know not a spark of gratitude, or he may have apparently very little and yet be grateful. True gratitude is not alone a loving recognition of what one has already received; it is also the mental appropriation of that which is in reality ours but which we may not as yet have seen manifested in our human experience. When we can commence our work for ourselves or for others by saying as the Master did: "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always," we are praying aright, for we have begun with Principle, with a grateful acknowledgment that all that exists is the divine Mind and its creation.

How many times do we read that when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and other Old Testament characters, proved God's protecting love and care, or when they received a fresh vision of truth, they built an altar and paused there for a while to worship. Not that the heap of stones which they piled one upon another meant anything, but it symbolized gratitude and impressed upon them, albeit in primitive fashion, that they had been divinely cared for. Also it meant renewed consecration, an opportunity to pledge once more their loyalty to the one God alone. What an encouragement it must have been to them when they met with fresh problems to remember these altars which they had builded and to be able to say, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." Do we always, to-day, when we have proved that God is indeed "our refuge and strength" and "a very present help in trouble," remember to stop and build an altar in thought, an altar constructed of love and gratitude and renewed consecration, and lay thereon the sacrifice of self? How small a part of our time, after all, seems to be given to what might be called disinterested worship, in just thanking divine Love for being Love, in pouring out our hearts in spontaneous adoration, and in listening for the divine voice. Sometimes it seems as if we were in danger of forgetting the command, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God," and only approach the Father when we need help in some personal problem. Does it not seem as if a great deal of our time is taken up in working on these same problems, and comparatively little in the prayer of gratitude, of thanksgiving, and of praise? And yet one moment of true gratitude, of forgetting self in remembering God, has often accomplished what hours of less self-forgetful work has not done. We can all look back on our Bethels, where God spake to us as He did to Abraham; but how many of us have taken the time to pitch our tent there for a while and call upon the name of the Lord? And yet these altar-building experiences, these moments when we forget that we seem to have any problems and just remember the Father, are among the most blessed we can experience. Moreover they are full of healing, for to eliminate everything from our thought but God is surely to be freed from that which is unlike Him.

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September 24, 1921
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