WHILE speaking to a group, a young man related healings through prayer that he and his family had experienced over the years. Although he was grateful for these incidents, it was what he was most grateful for that echoed and reechoed in my thought. He said, ``I'm grateful that I'm grateful.'' How many of us profess that we would like to be grateful but believe that we have nothing to be thankful for? Gratitude in its deepest sense doesn't follow blessings that come our way. It precedes them, however natural it is to be grateful for benefits received. Gratitude is an expression of the spiritual fact that man is inseparable from divine Love, God. It indicates that we are indeed experiencing God's love and reflecting it.
But are we supposed to go gratefully through life, smiling from the teeth out, while we're crying inside with pain or some other difficulty? No, we have a right to be healed, and we can find healing as we strive to live in accord with the example of Christ Jesus. Gratitude can certainly be found in his example, and it is a mighty stimulus for healing.
Jesus showed us that regardless of how threatening things appear to be sometimes, it is possible to prove God's ever-presence to the extent that we need to. He demonstrated that the power of the universal, healing Christ, Truth, opens the door of human consciousness to spiritual reality, the reality of God's supremacy and of man's God-given wholeness. Through the quality of gratitude we can more readily feel the influence of the Christ. Perhaps the ultimate example of gratitude is depicted in the Bible when Jesus stood by Lazarus's tomb. He thanked God for Lazarus's healing before there was any evidence of healing--at least to those standing by. ``Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.''1 As we know, Lazarus was restored to life.
Believing that we have nothing for which to be grateful would deprive us of so much--even healing. It would close the door on the good that is right at our fingertips. There is always something for which to be grateful--maybe the simplest thing, some small kindness shown to us. At least this gives us a glimpse of reality, of God's love for us, which is being expressed through some individual who is receptive to His love.
Think of it! Any inclination to express such a quality as kindness is an impulsion from divine Love. So if we ourselves have a tendency toward kindness, unselfishness, compassion, we are feeling the nearness of divine Love and our nearness to Love. This helps us to recognize what gratitude feels like--an overwhelming sense of the fullness of Love's presence and care.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, asks, ``Are we really grateful for the good already received?'' She continues, ``Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.''2 There was a time when I needed very much to learn more about what this statement means.
Many years ago I had several attacks of what I thought was appendicitis. Each time, through prayers of a Christian Science practitioner, I was relieved. One day I attended a Christian Science lecture in which the point was made that gratitude is essential to genuine healing. Not long after attending the lecture, while driving home from work in very heavy traffic, I experienced another attack, which was to be the last one. It seemed to me my only choice in that situation was to pray for myself and heal the trouble.
I recalled the lecturer's emphasis on gratitude. As I drove, I began to realize all that I had to be grateful for. My consciousness became so imbued with a feeling of God's love for me, and all, that the pain disappeared. Gratitude had replaced fear. With fear gone, the pain was gone. Arriving home, I got out of my car to open the heavy garage door. It was then that I realized I had been healed. This proved to be a permanent healing.
Obviously I can identify with the young man's statement ``I'm grateful that I'm grateful.''
1John 11:41, 42. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 3. You can find more articles about spiritual healing in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving. Psalms 147:7