Gratitude--when in pain?

I WAS suffering with acute pain, and she said to me, ``Be grateful.'' She said it three times. And that's all she said. My husband and I had spent the evening chaperoning a dinner and dance -- an annual event we always looked forward to. But this time the dining hall and the food had not been up to the normal high standard, and there seemed to be a general atmosphere of contagious disappointment. Shortly after returning home I was suddenly gripped with an excruciating stomach pain. I asked my husband to call a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me. He did, and she agreed to pray. But when I had not been relieved of the pain after a few minutes, I asked him to call her again and hold the phone to my ear. I told her what distress I was in. That's when she said to be grateful. She said it with such love and gentle firmness. I needed help so badly that I agreed to try. I thought, ``Grateful for what? Not for the pain. Not for this evening's disappointments. But I can be grateful for God.'' I knew something of the loving nature of God from my study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.1 ``That's it,'' I thought. ``There is no room for pain here, because God is here. Divine Love fills all space. There is no room in God's presence for anything unlike Him. I must let only God and His ideas be present in my thoughts.'' So I endeavored to become very still and turn my attention away from the pain and toward God. As I thought about His allness and goodness, about His nature as divine Love, and about man's true nature as the manifestation of Love, my heart became filled with love and gratitude for Him. I fell into a peaceful sleep. When I woke I was free of pain, fresh and uplifted. My thoughts about the previous evening were much happier. Gratitude for God has that kind of power. I could hardly wait to call the pract itioner to convey my thanks! Gratitude should be natural to a Christian. Christ Jesus made a practice of thanking God even in the midst of challenging circumstances. He thanked God before he raised his friend Lazarus, who had been dead for four days,2 and as he fed thousands of hungry people with a very small amount of food.3 He didn't wait to see if God would answer his prayers before thanking Him. Looking at all times to Spirit, not matter, as real substance, he thanked God that He had answered him. And seemingly in surmountable problems were solved--his friend rose from the dead; a few loaves and fishes became more than adequate to feed all the people. Jesus' prayers of thanks to God proved the divine Science of being. ``The term Science, properly understood,'' says Mrs. Eddy, ``refers only to the laws of God and to His government of the universe, inclusive of man.'' And she continues later, ``A knowledge of the Science of being develops the latent abilities and possibilities of man. It extends the atmosphere of thought, giving mortals access to broader and higher realms.'' 4 Gratitude opens thought to God's ideas and to the harmony of His government. Sometimes when we're in pain, physical or otherwise, our thought tends to get fairly well stuck on it--and the pain clings. That's exactly where I was when the practitioner told me to be grateful. She knew gratitude would open my thought to the ``broader and higher realms'' of God's government of man, and thus release me from the pain. Gratitude and pain are incompatible. But it isn't a question of whether we can be grateful when we are in pain. The truth is we can't be in pain when we are grateful--when gratitude wells up from a spiritual understanding of, and conformation to, God's nature. God's presence and power exclude sin, pain, and limitation. And to the degree that this divine presence reigns in human consciousness, these depictions of His supposed absence disappear from our lives. Thanking God is a good practice to get into. It certainly would have been useful at the dinner party. It has proved to be a good practice on many occasions since then. Start thanking God today! 1 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2 See John 11:41. 3 See Matthew 15:36. 4 Science and Health, p. 128. 30{et

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