Eleven years ago on Thanksgiving Day, I stood in a Christian Science church with tears in my eyes. It was during the portion of the Thanksgiving Day service set aside for expressions of gratitude to God by those in the congregation.
My tears were tears of joy, since one week earlier my first child had been born healthy and without complications, although medical predictions during labor were that a Caesarean operation would be necessary. Fear had been expressed by one compassionate physician that the baby might be stillborn. Yet suddenly the child had been born normally, and free from any defect.
During the time of childbirth, as well as the months preceding, I had regularly turned to God with the deepest yearning to know His will and understand it. Christian Science had been giving me, over the years, an increasing understanding that God's will is entirely good and benevolent. I knew that abnormality, suffering, death, could never be associated wth God's will; that they had no actual relation to man as God has created him!
I have the profoundest gratitude to God for His allness and love. The proof of His perfect nature was so clear to me that I had to share it at the Thanksgiving service. Others, also, testified to the power and nearness of divine Love in their own lives. This service reminded me of the Scriptural invitation ''Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.'' n1
n1 Psalms 107:2.
Every year as Thanksgiving Day draws near, I look forward to attending this special church service (open to everyone). Our family members take time beforehand to reflect on the many God-given blessings we have experienced in the past year. But we have noticed something interesting in the trend of our thoughts. As our perception of God's goodness is deepening, our gratitude seems to be maturing and deepening as well. Whereas some time ago we might have tended to think of blessings in terms of material possessions, personal friendships, and physical health, we seem to be expressing more gratitude to God directly for His beingm - for His presence and allness. We are grateful for the understanding that man is actually the child of God, unconditionally loved and protected.
We are also grateful that although we may have a long way to go in demonstrating these facts 100 percent of the time, we have still seen them proved to a greater and greater degree. The spiritual sense of wholeness that is growing within us has provided us with more courage, honesty, strength, wisdom, and joy. It has ruled out of us some ungodlike traits.
Now, even in the midst of challenges, we can be grateful. We don't reserve gratitude for one day a year or for the time when the current problem is ''over.'' Before he raised Lazarus, Jesus prayed, ''Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.'' n2
n2 John 11:41, 42.
I had often marveled that Jesus' prayer was a prayer of thankfulness to God for always hearing him. He didn't wait, so clear was his conviction of God's goodness and all-power. Practicing this attitude in my own life, I was recently healed of an illness through prayer in a very short time. Perhaps the breakthrough I made into the reasonm for my gratitude helped to dissolve fear, self-pity, and discouragement, which were primarily what needed healing.
We can catch the spirit of true gratitude and see its relationship to acknowledging the power of God. Then gratitude will be more than a human response; it will become a reflection of divine power. Referring to ''testimony in regard to the healing of the sick,'' Mary Baker Eddy n3 writes, ''More than a mere rehearsal of blessings, it scales the pinnacle of praise and illustrates the demonstration of Christ, 'who healeth all thy diseases' (Psalm 103:3).'' n4
n3 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n4 Manual of the Mother Church, Article VIII, Section 24.
Thanksgiving and gratitude within our hearts do have a transforming effect. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57