Giving thanks is a tradition widely shared. Heartfelt thankfulness goes far beyond simply being grateful for material things. Being grateful is instrumental in healing of all kinds.
It has been said that one cannot receive with a closed hand. Gratitude opens thought to understand God's unconditional love for each one of us. It focuses our attention on His beneficent nature, His mercy, His guidance.
God is divine Love. Recognizing Him as the source of all good is what frees us from fear. As we give gratitude to Him, limitations and roadblocks fall away. Acknowledging God as all-powerful enables us to discern more clearly that good and the possibilities for progress are always present because He is omnipresent.
The times that gratitude is most needed may well be those in which the material circumstances are the bleakest. One example can be found in the Bible. Facing the loss of Lazarus, a close friend, Christ Jesus was not beyond weeping. But at the grave, John says, he "lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me" (John 11:41). He first gave thanks to God, and then he restored Lazarus to life.
The Scriptures say that "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Corinthians 15:26). In learning spiritual facts, the truth of God's omnipotence that Jesus taught is something you and I can give thanks for. We ourselves can learn to heal.
Gratitude isn't just a nice thing. It helps light your pathway. Giving sincere thanks awakens us to more of the good at hand. "What is gratitude but a powerful camera obscura," Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, once observed, "a thing focusing light where love, memory, and all within the human heart is present to manifest light" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 164).
Things are often the darkest when one's life seems out of control. Once I became quite discouraged when I was unable to find an affordable place to live. Because of my demanding schedule of teaching and researching, I felt that a small, private apartment was what I needed. But despite searching diligently, I couldn't find any place that accommodated my tight budget.
When the lease expired on the apartment I had been sharing, I found myself homeless. Friends of a friend kindly allowed me to sleep on the sofa in their living room until I relocated. But after two more weeks of searching, I still couldn't find anything suitable. Now my hosts themselves were moving. They generously allowed me to sleep on the sofa in their new place. But I knew my housing predicament should be quickly resolved for the sake of everyone.
I prayed more earnestly to be shown my right place. The following day my new friends and I were grumbling about the outrageous rents in that college town. But right then I was struck by the fact that I had been ignoring the source of all goodness-God. It had become far easier to be cynical than to be thankful to God. And I glimpsed something true-never had I, God's beloved child, been outside of His perfect care. My home was already established in God, and I could never be separated from it, because I could never be separated from Him. I could honestly say in my heart, "Thank You, God, for Your protection and guidance." Nothing had changed in my housing, but I was at peace now.
That very afternoon I found a lovely, affordable apartment. The advertisement for it had specified a "mature" woman. Although I was not mature in years, I spoke with the landlady about the spiritual qualities I valued that characterize maturity, such as responsibility, accountability, thoughtfulness, and respectfulness. She happily rented to me.
Gratitude is like a smile that tells us that the heart is at home. Thankfulness communicates qualities that have transforming power in daily life.
Rejoice in the Lord,
O ye righteous: for praise
is comely for the upright. . . .
For the word of the Lord
is right; and all his works
are done in truth.
Psalms 33:1, 4