THANKSGIVING in the ``new land'' of America began less as a holiday than as a holy day. It was a time not only to remember the year's achievements and blessings but to praise and thank God for them. Today, when for a majority ofAmericans it is not a daily struggle to put a meal on the table, giving thanks perhaps has become routine -- or nonexistent. By contrast, for those who lurch from day to day uncertain of the source of their next sandwich, there may appear to be no cause at all for even feeling thankful. Yet we need to -- and can -- transcend all such feelings; we need to begin and end our gratitude with God, who is Spirit.
Christian Science teaches the simple but immensely significant spiritual fact that God is good and good is the nature of reality. Here is the greatest of reasons to rejoice! Christ Jesus' confidence in the all-power and ever-presence of God as good was so complete that, on one occasion, instead of belittling the small amount of food available to feed thousands of hungry people, he gave thanks. This expression of gratitude was followed by such an abundant display of provision that the multitude were fed, and more food remained after the meal than had been apparent before.1
This same depth of gratitude for the reality and allness of good, God, was pointedly evident prior to Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus -- again, at the very moment when there appeared to be no human reason for thankfulness. The Gospel of John says: ``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.''2 Jesus' call to Lazarus to ``come forth'' was answered when Lazarus walked out of his tomb, restored and free.
We too have opportunities this Thanksgiving Day and daily to lift up our eyes -- to take a higher, more spiritual view of this holy occasion. We too can thank our Father-Mother God for ``hearing'' us -- for loving us so thoroughly and richly that, as the Bible says, He knows our needs before we ask.3 And if He knows our needs before we ask, He also is actually meeting them before we ask. God is perpetually caring for His creation and therefore knows His children to be just as complete as He is, just as satisfied and free of want.We can be grateful, then, even when events or situations would strenuously argue that we haven't any right to be grateful.
One summer when I was in college I needed to earn a considerable amount of money. But seasonal jobs were very hard to come by where I lived, and despite my efforts (including dozens of applications and interviews), I was still jobless seven weeks into a fourteen-week school break. I called a close family friend -- a Christian Scientist -- who agreed to pray with me about the situation.
Within a short time the thought came to me that everything we do and think matters. So, I realized, I must not squander the present by merely waiting for a job. I could thank God and express that gratitude right then by acting from the basis that my existence was already -- and always -- blessed. This echoed to me something Mary Baker Eddy4 says in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``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.... Action expresses more gratitude than speech.''5
I stopped job-hunting temporarily and began helping my parents with household and family needs. I then volunteered to help a friend with a project. Within days a job became available that lasted until school began. And my friend asked me to take on a paying position with his project. By the end of the summer, I not only had earned the needed money, I had aided my family in useful ways and enriched my own understanding of real gratitude and real wealth.
When our gratitude is based on the spiritual truths of the goodness of reality and the reality of God, good -- and not merely on human evidences of good or hope of obtaining whatever we seem to lack -- we are starting from the most solid foundation there is for feeling and being truly grateful. As a result, we will find those things we perceive as ``needs'' inevitably being met. This proves that giving thanks is much more than just saying ``thanks'' and that the holiness of Thanksgiving is something we can sustain throughout the year.
1See John 6:1-13. 2John 11:41, 42. 3See Matthew 6:8. 4The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 5Science and Health, p. 3. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving. Psalms 147:7