WHEN I was growing up, if my brothers and I complained about something, our mother would remind us, ``Complaint is poverty; gratitude is riches.'' For years I thought she'd made up the saying, but one day when I was in college, I discovered that she'd been referring to an idea from a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal.1 I had been feeling depressed and lonely and had gone to my room to pray. As I reached out to God to feel His love, I remembered how my parents had encouraged me to express gratitude whenever I was unhappy or sick instead of just moping. I'd had many healings through this simple form of prayer.
Thinking of my parents' advice, I began to study references in the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, that related to gratitude and thanks. I was arrested first by references to the times Christ Jesus expressed gratitude even before he had demonstrated God's power. For instance, before he raised Lazarus from the dead he said: ``Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.''2
My intuition that this ``gratitude in advance'' was somehow a key to the healings that resulted was confirmed for me when I read Mrs. Eddy's statement ``Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.''3
In the past I had read that statement feeling that if I hoped to get the ``more,'' I'd better get busy and be grateful for the possessions I had. But this time it occurred to me that what we already have to be grateful for is much more valuable than any mere possessions could be. No matter what our human circumstances, we always have our oneness with our perfect Father-Mother God. And that's something to be grateful for!
Each of us is, in reality, the spiritual idea of God and so is the perfect and unerring reflection of our Creator. God causes us to express Him as His image and likeness. We can never break away from God and become sick, sinful, depressed, afraid, or dead.
Wasn't this what Jesus was grateful for right in the face of death and lack? And wasn't it in understanding this that he overcame them? We, too, can be thankful for the eternal, spiritual facts of perfect God and perfect man and in this way prepare ourselves to see God's harmony evidenced in the meeting of our needs.
As I prayed, I began to understand a little more Christ Jesus' statement in the Lord's Prayer ``Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.''4 Mrs. Eddy gives the spiritual interpretation of this line with the words ``Enable us to know, -- as in heaven, so on earth, -- God is omnipotent, supreme.''5
Finally I came across the line from the hymn my mother had referred to so often, ``Our gratitude is riches.'' My thoughts zoomed into focus and I said right out loud, ``Gratitude is the riches. It doesn't just bring them, it is the treasure, and I've had it all the time.''
Needless to say my joy had returned, and I felt anything but alone. And I realized that we don't ever have to wait until our outward experience seems pleasing to express gratitude. We are always God's children, and we can rejoice in this good that we have already received.
1See Hymnal, No. 249. 2John 11:41. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 3. 4Matthew 6:10. 5Science and Health, p. 17.