How wonderful it is that countries worldwide have national days of Thanksgiving. Just think of it! It’s an acknowledgment that gratitude is a universally good thing to feel and practice. This holds true for everyone, no matter where we live.
But what if there seems little to be grateful for, or our efforts to be grateful feel hollow and empty?
I’ve found it helpful to gratefully acknowledge that those very situations can turn us more unreservedly to trust in God – to seek answers not in the limited, material, finite universe we appear to live in, but in what the teachings of Christian Science reveal as the real source of permanent goodness: God.
These teachings explain that Principle is a synonym for God. This helps us understand God’s law as the underlying premise of creation. It’s a bit like the way that the light we see breaking through a thick cloud cover is always traceable back to the sun: We can be grateful for the light peeking through the clouds, but to understand its ultimate source is to latch on to the awareness of it being permanent and indestructible.
The Apostle Paul declared, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:10). Real happiness isn’t sourced in matter, which by its very nature is temporary, but is found in eternal Spirit, God. It’s with gratitude that we can turn away from looking to materiality for happiness and instead seek it in the permanence of divine Principle. Paul’s life experience, as related in the Bible, shows how this empowers us to feel God’s wisdom and protection through challenges.
It’s not so much a matter of having a stiff upper lip, nor should we think that God sends us evils to prove our loyalty. God is entirely good and could never impart anything but good to His children. It’s about what we can learn from trials when we face them. The presence of divine goodness never goes away. It is not dependent on whether or not we immediately seem to see evidence of it at any given time, because it is infinite.
And as we anchor our thought to this underlying source of good, we find real security. God gives us spiritual ideas that meet our needs and bring more good into our daily lives, and we can be gratefully receptive to these ideas.
One November, my family learned that a construction project my husband had been scheduled to do was not going to go forward after all. We had taken a large down payment on the project and had already spent it, partially for the supplies for the project but also as family income. We did not have the funds to give the down payment back.
It was tempting to feel this would be a very bleak holiday season, and at first it was hard to muster up any genuine gratitude. But, the severity of the financial situation did turn me unreservedly to God for an answer. I opened the 1932 “Christian Science Hymnal” to find some guidance in my prayers and read this:
When all material streams are dried,
Thy fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied,
And glory in Thy name.
All good, where’er it may be found,
Its source doth find in Thee;
I must have all things and abound,
While God is God to me.
(John Ryland, No. 224, © CSBD)
I caught a beautiful glimpse of the fact that God is the source of all supply, and that this very glimpse of God as our unfailing source of good was itself substantive. Furthermore, I saw that as God’s spiritual offspring, we remain inseparable from this source.
My prayers brought confidence that the way would become clear. And that’s just what happened. Several unexpected construction jobs emerged, and in short order funds became available to meet all needs.
I was so grateful that we were so quickly able to return the down payment, but what I was most grateful for that Thanksgiving was going deeper in seeing God, not the material indicators of income, as our real source of supply.
Life can be challenging at times. But when we gratefully turn to God as the source of all that’s good and true – of health, companionship, purposeful activity, joy, peace – then we find unfailing answers in Him.