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The richest kind of thanksgiving

From the November 21, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

A day set aside for thanksgiving is traditional in the United States and in some other countries. And often it is a rich occasion for gatherings with family and friends. The most important thing, however, is the richness of our gratitude. The richest kind of thanksgiving is spiritual; it is gratitude for the goodness and love God bestows on each and every one of His dear children universally. This is gratitude any person can feel in their heart and express in their life, regardless of their present human circumstances—and when it is sincere, it brings increasing evidence of God’s goodness and care more fully into one’s life.

Perhaps it’s the measure of our sincerity that counts most when it comes to gratitude. This idea came rather poignantly to my attention as I pondered again some of the things Mary Baker Eddy says about gratitude. Take this statement in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, for example: “Action expresses more gratitude than speech” (p. 3). It was a moving reminder to me that, while it is indeed good to verbally express gratitude for our God-bestowed blessings—perhaps in a testimony at the Thanksgiving Day service in a Church of Christ, Scientist—the sincerity of our gratitude can only be measured by how fully we express our gratitude in the way we live.

What came to mind as I thought of this was how Jesus responded as he sat and watched people cast their contributions into the treasury. He saw many rich folk contributing of their wealth, while one poor woman—a widow—contributed everything she had, “two mites, which make a farthing.” Jesus called his disciples to him, and said to them: “This poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (see Mark 12:41–44). I began to see how this applied to expressing gratitude for the rich blessings we receive through the study of Christian Science. No matter how rich, or poor, we are in our understanding of the spiritual truths of Christian Science, the sincerity of our gratitude can only be measured by how much we are giving of ourselves by putting that understanding into practice. Giving our all by practicing what we do understand is true gratitude. And it is the only way we grow even richer in our understanding of God and His spiritual creation. 

The sincerity of our gratitude can only be measured by how fully we express our gratitude in the way we live.

Let’s say we’re feeling burdened in some way, and uninspired—maybe even feeling that we just don’t have enough spiritual understanding to pray in a way that will bring healing into our life. Instead of thinking we lack understanding, perhaps we can begin with one simple thing, such as, “I understand that God is good, and that He sees and loves the good in His entire creation”—and then we set out to thank God for goodness by looking for opportunities to express goodness and to recognize it in others. Maybe that takes a lot of effort to begin with, but as we persist in it, we begin to see evidence of goodness where we hadn’t seen it before. The clouded way things had seemed to us begins to lift. We begin to understand a bit more clearly the healing power of God’s expression of goodness in man. 

Then, something else we understand of God and His spiritual creation comes to mind, and we look for opportunities to put that into practice. Our understanding of the spiritual truths of Christian Science grows richer, and our natural ability to put that understanding into practice unfolds a little more, as well. And pretty soon our heart begins to sing a bit, because we begin to feel what it’s like to live our gratitude. Then healing not only seems possible, it begins to show up in our experience.

Psalm 95 issues us an invitation: “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” (verses 1 and 2). Let’s set out today, and every day, to let our lives sing with gratitude to God by giving our all to putting into practice even a little of what we understand of the truths given to us through the Comforter, Christian Science. Let’s accept this invitation, and also the invitation in the third verse of Hymn 139 in the Christian Science Hymnal: 

Come, walk with Love along the way, 
Let childlike trust be yours today; 
Uplift your thought, with courage go, 
Give of your heart’s rich overflow, 
And peace shall crown your joy-filled day. 
Come, walk with Love along the way. 
(Minny M. H. Ayers, adapt. © CSBD)

We “give of our heart’s rich overflow” when we live what we understand of the spiritual truths so abundantly given to us by God through Christ and Christian Science. Living that way is the richest kind of thanksgiving. And it brings the richest kind of blessings—a growing understanding of Christian Science, the spiritualization and Christianization of our character, and all kinds of healing—into our lives, and into the lives of who knows how many others. 

Barbara Vining

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