What Gratitude Does
THERE is power--healing power--in spiritual joy and gratitude. Gratitude--not based on just human emotion, but founded on God, divine Spirit--changes a person's outlook on health; it brings confidence; it fosters the kind of happiness that quells depression. It was integral to the way Christ Jesus overcame death for one of his friends.
This friend was Lazarus. He had died while Jesus was away. John's Gospel in the Bible tells what happened when Jesus came back: ``Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. 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. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go'' (11:41-44).
``Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me'' are significant, if not astounding, words. Jesus was grateful at exactly the moment he was faced with graphic evidence of death. Yet, gratitude at a time like that was logical for Jesus. Jesus' example showed that prayer based on gratitude for what God has done is healing prayer.
What was it that Jesus understood God to have done for Lazarus? Had God caused his death? No, if God caused death, Jesus couldn't have raised Lazarus, no matter how he prayed. Jesus was grateful because he must have recognized Lazarus's true being as God's child. God has created each of us, not materially, but spiritually in His image. Man is God's spiritual, perfect expression. This is something to be grateful for!
Seeing and being joyful about God's creation gives impetus to prayer. The Bible has many instances of people grateful in just this manner. In Psalms, for example, we read: ``Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations'' (100:4, 5).
A friend of mine had been bedridden for several days. Although she'd been praying, she was feeling despondent because she had not been healed. To counter her discouragement, she decided to write down five hundred things she was grateful for. This wasn't a mechanical recitation. She knew that she could draw upon the efficacy of gratitude based on divine Spirit. It took quite a while for her to meet her goal of five hundred, but doing so opened up the way for her healing. That same day she moved about her house freely and was active outside the next day.
This woman's experience illustrates how gratitude founded on knowing God's creation changes the way one views life. When our view is based on joy for the truth of God's spiritual creation, scientific, Christian healing takes place. The Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in her book 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. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech'' (p. 3).
Each of us, as Christ Jesus' example shows, has reason to be ``grateful for the good already received'' because we can simply be grateful--even joyful--about the way God has made us. Do-ing so purifies and heals because gratitude that is spiritually grounded can help not only individual people but communities, cities--even nations.