Gratitude’s impact

“What is gratitude but a powerful camera obscura,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany. The full quotation reads, “What is gratitude but a powerful camera obscura, a thing focusing light where love, memory, and all within the human heart is present to manifest light” (p. 164). To me, this means that when God’s goodness is at the center of our attention, our thoughts are open to see more of Love’s glorious magnificence in our lives. 

In my own life, for example, words are inadequate to express my gratitude for the friend who introduced me to Christian Science when I was in my teens. At that point I was feeling very discouraged because of changes in the school system in my small town. Reading the Christian Science magazines she shared opened my thought to God’s goodness, made me feel loved, and impelled me to move forward in schoolwork and sports. And it made me more loving and helpful at home. 

After graduating from high school and marrying, I continued reading Christian Science literature supplied by my husband’s grandmother as well as found at a laundromat. These magazines filled my heart with gratitude and inspired me to look to God as the only source of good. I was learning that I could rely on Him for all my needs. 

Soon I found that trusting in God’s love answers our need for employment. When I completed business college and began looking for work, there were jobs available. But all my interviews and letters ended with the words, “We are looking for someone with experience.” 

On my way to an interview one day, still feeling rejected and downhearted, I reached out wholeheartedly to God in prayer. As I listened, the idea came clearly to me that God is Love and that He loved me. He did not favor one child over another, but loved all His children. My heart sang—I felt assured that God’s love would meet my need for work. I realized that when we trust in omnipotent God, divine Love, we don’t need to fear. Regardless of the condition or problem, God never fails to take care of us. 

That day I secured temporary office work that led to professional employment in my field. I was befriended by a fellow worker, who invited me to attend testimony meetings and church services and my daughter to attend Sunday School at the local branch Church of Christ, Scientist. The members welcomed us with open arms and much-needed, loving support. 

From the very beginning, these new friends impressed upon me the importance of exchanging complaint for gratitude. They gave examples from the Bible of how being grateful had impacted lives. One was of Christ Jesus thanking God before feeding the multitudes. “Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would” (John 6:11). And everyone was sufficiently fed.

This proof of God’s ever-present love and infinite supply taught me how important it is to keep my thoughts filled with songs of gratitude and praise. When we earnestly and humbly acknowledge and thank God for all the blessings He is continuously imparting to us, we cannot at the same time harbor disappointment, discouragement, or defeat. 

Gratitude continued to be a healing force in my life. After a year or so, my boss informed me that my job would be ending in about two weeks. I became very anxious because my employment was my family’s primary source of income. My friend, sensing my concern, gave me this comforting Bible verse: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). This Scripture quieted my thought and released me from fear. 

I held on to that promise of deliverance, and also talked with a Christian Science practitioner—someone who helps people find solutions to problems through prayer based on the scientific laws of God. The practitioner lovingly assured me that God was good and “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1)—that God loved me and my daughter and that He would not take what we had and leave us with nothing. Even though she didn’t know just what the answer would be, she assured me that it would be good because God’s will for us is always good. 

She encouraged me to write down at least ten things I was grateful for each day. It didn’t seem that I had much to be grateful for, but I endeavored to be obedient. So each morning before getting ready for work, I would arise early enough to read that Bible verse reminding me that God is always present to help me, and I would start on my gratitude list. I repeated the process every night before going to bed. By holding on to the promising words in that Bible verse, and with the practitioner’s encouragement, I became confident that God would meet my need for employment. 

The more I worked at being grateful, the more I discovered what I had to be grateful for. Soon I could easily list more than ten things I was grateful for each day. My thought became more uplifted and expectant, and my friend commented on the joy I was expressing. 

In less than two weeks I received a telephone call to come for an interview, and I was hired on the spot. The new position was in the same building as my old job, and there was no break in employment. I glimpsed again the importance of giving thanks before healing takes place.

Fear and gratitude are not roommates. They can’t occupy the same space. Gratitude keeps thought open and expectant of good and wipes out blame, anger, fear, and so forth. My grateful heart led me to study the weekly Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson each week and to read Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy from beginning to end. During the first year of this work I was freed from social drinking, addiction to cigarettes, severe nightmares, allergies, and hemorrhaging. Family relations also improved greatly. 

The words of a hymn describe the power of a grateful heart:

A grateful heart a garden is, 
   Where there is always room 
For every lovely, Godlike grace 
   To come to perfect bloom.

               . . . . . . .

Grant then, dear Father-Mother, God, 
   Whatever else befall, 
This largess of a grateful heart 
   That loves and blesses all.
(Ethel Wasgatt Dennis, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 3, © CSBD)

My experience shows unmistakably that gratitude for God’s goodness opens our thought to receive all of Love’s bounty. When our hearts are filled with praise for God’s goodness, we are freed from unemployment, lack, disease, and other ills. And we can help others to be free, too—just as the practitioner and my friends helped me.

The right conclusion: God made me free
March 19, 2018

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