A couple of years ago I became ill the day before Thanksgiving. My wife and I had already volunteered to host an extended family dinner for the holiday. After much prayer, I hadn’t yet improved and unfortunately felt worse.
I told my wife I would stay in the bedroom the next day while our family enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal. I added that there was no way I would be going to the Thanksgiving service at our branch Church of Christ, Scientist, in the morning. Besides, I said, I had nothing to be grateful for.
Early the next morning, I received a phone call from a church member informing me that she was bringing a guest to the Thanksgiving service. The guest was someone I had known while growing up, and he was looking forward to seeing me. I told the church member that I was not feeling well, and that I doubted I would be attending church that day. Instead of the church member saying that she was sorry, or that she hoped I would get well, she said, “Healing is just around the corner.”
Within seconds of hanging up, I had a thought come to me that it would be a loving act for me to go to the service to welcome my childhood friend to our church, and that I could not be punished for doing that. According to the law of divine Love, I could not be made to suffer for a selfless act of love—for reflecting and expressing divine Love. I decided to go to the Thanksgiving service.
I entered church still not feeling well, and to be honest, I sat through the readings from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, without a grain of gratitude in my thought. But then the testimonies began. The first person that stood up talked about the power of gratitude to lift us above the petty concerns of self and personal sense. A truth dawned on me: that all my grumbling was self-centered, a limiting feature of personal sense, which prevented me from opening my thought to God and my God-given spiritual sense.
Next a young man got up to express his gratitude for his successful recovery from drug addiction. Knowing this young man and his journey, I felt genuine gratitude for his willingness to share his story of courage and healing.
Then a young woman stood up and told about how she and her family had arrived in town recently, not knowing anyone. They had needed a home, schools for their children, and jobs. Her humble gratitude for how God’s love had cared for and sustained her family filled me with joy.
I did not stand to give thanks myself, but listening to other members of the congregation express their gratitude for God’s goodness was enough to change me. Like the warmth of the sunshine slowly thawing a frozen river, the sharing in church that day caused the ingratitude within my thought to crack. I turned away from focusing on myself and personal sense and was lifted up to an awareness of God’s love and power governing.
After the service, I met my childhood friend, and we reminisced about old experiences. His wife had recently passed on, but he was apparently buoyed by the Thanksgiving service, because he began to list the things he was grateful for. I was touched by his sense of gratitude.
We said our goodbyes, and I walked out of church completely healed. I went home to a house full of family, ate heartily, and entertained my guests, while feeling a sublime gratitude in my heart for the power of divine Love that had dissolved the illness I had suffered from.
Through the grace of the Thanksgiving service, my thought had been opened to the reality of God’s abundant blessings, simply by listening to other people’s gratitude. This revelation transformed me and brought a remarkable and speedy release, for which I am grateful.
Austin, Texas, US
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