It wasn’t an official day of Thanksgiving, but thanksgiving was a profound part of what happened that day. There were thousands in need of food, to which they were without ready access. To Jesus’ disciples, the meager fare available—some bread and a few fish—wasn’t even enough to give gratitude for in the face of such lack. But for Jesus, thanksgiving was the natural response—not because he was an optimist but because he saw something others didn’t. He saw God’s goodness as present reality, and supply enough for everyone—God’s ever-present provision—as the natural outcome of this clear spiritual vision. And his gratitude wasn’t in vain: Everyone was fed, with plenty left over (see John 6:1–13).
This story raises the question, As we confront the things in our lives and in the world that are in need of healing, are we going to be like the disciples or like Jesus? Are we going to look at what we have with halfhearted gratitude—or none at all? Or are we going to turn to the big-picture gratitude that starts with God and feels a deep and abiding trust that beyond what the eye can see, good is the power, the true substance of our lives, and the only reality now?
That last option might be difficult, if not impossible, to accept if it were dependent on us to muster up gratitude in the face of looming problems. But we are never working alone. The same Christ that animated Jesus and suffused his healing prayers with power also animates and empowers our prayers today. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of Christ, explained that Christ is
“the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.” This voice of good is powerful because it is the voice of Truth; it reveals what’s real. And it does this by “dispelling the illusions of the senses” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332)—by showing mortality and its limitations to be a farce, and the infinitude and harmony of God, Spirit, to be the truth of being.
If we’re feeling as though our gratitude hinges on what we presently see or what might happen, that single phrase, “dispelling the illusions of the senses,” is one to reconsider. What would stand in the way of our own deep trust and heartfelt rejoicing—the kind that Jesus expressed? The lie that says that the five physical senses reign supreme; that what we see, hear, and experience is the end of the story; or that we aren’t capable of challenging it. But the ever-active Christ is present to awaken us to God’s supremacy and the spiritual reality, harmonious and good.
The world needs our spiritual-evidence-based gratitude. It needs our hearts overflowing with a love for God and all that God is and does.
I felt the touch of Christ this year when two friends and I committed to praying regularly about climate-related issues. Though I felt inspired and, at times, even expectant of good because of our prayers, I was surprised by my ongoing reluctance to acknowledge any signs of progress, no matter how bona fide. Like the disciples before the five thousand were fed, I was missing the promise of the good already present by being so wrapped up in the overwhelming magnitude of the problem.
One day, though, the word gratitude came as I prayed, and I realized I needed to wholeheartedly consent to the truth of God’s sustaining care for His creation. This care is a constant, not something that comes and goes or that has to be increased or re-established. I felt a divine power spiritualizing my perspective and destroying my fear, and I was able to yield to a spiritual sense of the earth, the atmosphere, and all of creation as the present reality. What flooded in after that was a different kind of gratitude: wholehearted rather than conditional.
While climate change is an issue I’ve continued to pray about since then, it has been from a surer basis. And when I’ve seen reports on positive climate-related developments, such as enhancements in battery technology and renewable energy or protections for endangered species, I haven’t been tempted to respond, like the disciples, “But what are they among so many [problems]?” Instead, I’ve felt more convinced that these solutions represent an infinite range of possibilities for progress.
The world needs our spiritual-evidence-based gratitude. It needs our hearts overflowing with a love for God and all that God is and does. And it needs our being humble enough to keep consenting to the spiritual facts we learn in Christian Science—facts that lift us above the dark images that don’t seem so compelling in the light of what’s really true. This is when we see healing—yes, even with the big things.
Mrs. Eddy recognized the connection between progress and this kind of gratitude-as-prayer. “Are we really grateful for the good already received?” she asked. “Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more” (Science and Health, p. 3). Genuine gratitude isn’t the kind that looks at the future and wonders if everything really will turn out OK. Being “really grateful” comes from a spiritual conviction that “all that is made is the work of God, and all is good” (Science and Health, p. 521). And this conviction does indeed lead to very happy—and continuous—thanksgiving.
Jenny Sawyer, Managing Editor,
Youth Content and Content Development