When the whole family is happily gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving feast, it's not hard to to give thanks for obvious blessings - to ''say grace'' as is done in many households. But what if there's tension in the family? What if a loved family member will have to spend the holiday alone in challenging circumstances? What if there's not enough money to put food on the table for everyday meals, let alone Thanksgiving? Can we still give thanks for divine providence? Must we give thanks in a perfunctory or resigned way in the face of what appears to be a miserable lot? And if we do say thank you, what good does it do?
There's evidence that gratitude to God in the face of trouble can do more than quiet our fears; it can actually transform the situation that is troubling us. Two incidents in the life of Christ Jesus provide this evidence. In both cases, the Bible records that Jesus took time to say thanks to God before the problem he faced was resolved. One occasion, recorded in Mark, was his feeding of the four thousand.n1 The other was his raising of Lazarus from the dead, recorded in John. The account tells us: ''And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.''n2
n1 See Mark 8:6.
n2 John 11:41,42.
There is a tone of certainty about Jesus' words here, certainty that comes of experience. He was so sure of the presence of God's power that for him to say thanks was not to give mere blind acknowledgment to some far-off deity; it was to gratefully understand that God's goodness and supremacy are eternal facts and thereby bring the unopposable power of God to bear upon the crisis at hand. Jesus' life and works were full of this certainty, and he stands out as the unmatched Exemplar of God's absolute care and control of His creation.
Where did Jesus get this certainty? Can Christians today expect the same sense of certainty and power when they respond to trials with gratitude? Mary Baker Eddy's study of the Way-shower's life and words has brought answers to these questions for many. Mrs. Eddy had faced enough uncertainties and tragedies to cause her to realize that no human system could allow her to experience the healing so evident in Jesus' life. Her discovery brought to light that his works were the outgrowth of divine law and that all, following his example, can partake of the gracious power of that law. As she prayed with her Bible as her guide, Mrs. Eddy began to understand more of the healing power of the Christ. Gradually her life was transformed. She taught others this Science of Christ, or Christian Science, she had discovered.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she identifies the source of the certainty to which each of us has a right. She says, ''Hold perpetually this thought, - that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being.'n3
n3 Science and Health, p. 496.
Our gratitude can grow from certainty - from the certainty that God is Love and that as His offspring we're perpetually cared for, governed by divine law. In the final analysis man isn't really a mortal, separated from God, subject to misfortune and loss. He is spiritual, immortal, and under the exclusive jurisdiction of his creator. That's the promise of the Science of Christ. Through this Science we can prove that Christ, Truth, feeds the empty heart as well as supplying daily bread. We can prove that divine Love opens the prison door by opening thought to man's sinless and perfect nature. We can feel invigorated by Spirit, God, instead of crippled by age.
The certainty of God's love for each of us is the basis for our transforming prayer of thanks. Giving thanks opens our thought to the power of God close at hand. When we pray daily, ''I know that Thou hearest me always,'' we can never find it hard to say thank you to our gracious provider, God. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. I Chronicles 29:13