Gratitude: Can it help when we are struggling with adversity?
After realizing that self-pity wasn’t helping in a difficult work situation, I decided I would raise the level of my gratitude and be genuinely appreciative for every good thing, no matter how small, during my day.
I was encouraged to do so by a provocative question framed by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” the Christian Science textbook, she asks: “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” (p. 3).
What at first seemed impossible became easier with practice. And within a couple of days I was not only recognizing the incredible bounty of daily blessings in my life but I became increasingly aware of, and grateful for, the presence of God, divine Love. I felt an inner spiritual joy that replaced the unhappy, complaining thoughts. And it turned out that shortly thereafter I was, to my surprise, unexpectedly offered a new and more rewarding position.
Others, too, have found power in gratitude. For centuries, individuals from many cultures have naturally praised and inherently felt there is something bigger than oneself that brings forth good. The Bible directs: “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good” (I Chronicles 16:34).
Mary Baker Eddy certainly recognized the importance and healing significance of giving gratitude to God. In most Churches of Christ, Scientist, around the world, there is a special one-hour service on Thanksgiving, or another appropriate day, that includes readings from the Bible and Science and Health, and an opportunity for Christian Scientists to give testimonies. Most often the expressions of thanks rise above appreciation for everyday good to deep gratitude for the tangible presence of God, divine good, operating in our lives.
Such gratitude is a powerful spiritual outlook that opens our thought to the Christ, the living truth about God’s allness. It enables us to become more keenly aware of the abundance of God, Spirit, which is presently available to each of us as the spiritual heirs of our Father-Mother God. Jesus explained our relationship to the source of infinite good, God, when he taught, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Because God is All – all intelligence, all action, all law – His goodness is an operating divine Principle that is ongoing and invariable. It comes with the continuous Christ-message from God: “I am with you. I love you. I am taking good care of you.”
Recognizing and acknowledging God’s goodness turns our consciousness away from preoccupations with anxiety, resentment, regret, jealousy, forecasts of evil, and the never satisfied pursuit of materialism. Giving thanks silences the complaining thought that is so busy being negative that it blocks from our view the divine good always at hand. It is virtually impossible to be magnifying God’s present goodness and to worry at the same time; but making a practice of gratitude can lead to solutions, as it did for me in relation to my job.
Wherever we find ourselves this holiday season, perhaps we can each carve out a moment to pause and feel the peace, comfort, and inspiration that result from acknowledging God, divine good, and His unceasing care. This will open thought for an enriched Thanksgiving, embracing the promised blessings for us all.