Thanksgiving Day is long past, but I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. I just finished The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan—a book that a friend recommended. The author writes about her insights and experiences while keeping daily track of gratitude for a year. Every aspect of her life—marriage and family, friendships, work assignments, even body weight—became happier, more fulfilling, more successful, and more balanced. She proved that finding the good in every situation—being thankful—had powerful effects.
It reminded me that gratitude has always played an important role in my life as a Christian Scientist. After all, just three pages into the textbook of Christian Science, author Mary Baker Eddy shares some profound but simple ideas about being grateful. First, she asks, “Are we really grateful for the good already received?” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 3.) She points out that when we acknowledge the blessings we have, it opens us up to receiving even more to be grateful for.
Continuing on she says, “Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech” (Science and Health, p. 3). Gratitude, then, is more than positive thinking, or a fleeting emotional uplift. It’s also more than merely a recitation around a turkey-laden dinner table. It’s really a command; it requires something of us. For example, gratitude for health and strength may lead us to help friends move. Gratitude for abundance might cause us to give to a charity that we’re passionate about. And gratitude for God, divine Love, moves us to prayerfully acknowledge, “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (Science and Health, p. 13). In our hearts, we can be sincerely thankful that everyone has access to God’s unfailing goodness—no one is left out.
Since gratitude moves us to good actions, prayer, and the acknowledgment that God’s goodness embraces everyone, it must have spiritual significance.
Gratitude is the realization that we have access to good 24/7, because its spiritual source is omnipresent God. Gratitude isn’t just a response after something good has worked out to benefit us. Gratitude is a spiritual quality that is present and working within us even when we may not see one thing to be grateful for. Gratitude’s powerful promise of peace is felt by our spiritual sense of things, our divine intuition.
Jesus knew the power of being grateful. There are several examples of Jesus giving gratitude before a need was met. For example, Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died. By the time Jesus found out that Lazarus was sick, and made his way to the town where Lazarus lived, his friend had been dead four days. Jesus asked to be taken to the tomb where the body had been laid, and for the stone in front of the tomb to be removed. Next, Jesus did something surprising. He “lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). Then, with great authority, Jesus called his dead friend from the tomb—and Lazarus came out, alive and well.
Jesus proved that the spiritual nature of gratitude was active, transformative, compelling, and powerful. The great thing is, it’s just as powerful in our lives today. The reasons we have to be grateful are right here in our hearts, and those promises of good are tangible and reachable right now.
Janice Kaplan observed, “Because it’s not dependent on specific events, gratitude is long lasting and impervious to change or adversity” (The Gratitude Diaries, p. 14). So true! And because gratitude is impelled by divine Love, no obstacle can get in its way. Neither sorrow, sickness, lack—nor even death—can stop or dilute the power of gratitude. Why? Because it’s spiritual: It has its source in the omnipotent and eternal God.
Now that’s something to be thankful for!
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!