During this Thanksgiving holiday, it is natural to think of the many blessings we have received during the year and to be grateful for all that our Father-Mother God has given us. We are grateful that because of our unity with Him, we know that divine Love is caring for us all equally and continuously. The inspired words of Christ Jesus, “I and my Father are one” were practically demonstrated in the Master’s mighty healing works (John 10:30). To the degree that we follow him, we demonstrate our own oneness with God in healing works. In fact, Jesus said that in following him we would do even greater works than he did (see John 14:12). Man’s spiritual identity and his eternal unity with his Maker, God, infinite good, is the basis of prayer in Christian Science. A grateful heart is ever prepared to receive these truths.
Nothing that does not belong to man as God’s child can ever be added, and nothing inherent in man’s nature can ever be taken away.
Through healing, Jesus showed us that no aspect of man’s identity as God’s own image could ever be changed. Nothing that does not belong to man as God’s child can ever be added, and nothing inherent in man’s nature can ever be taken away. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Man is tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else. God’s being is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss” (p. 481). Elsewhere in that book we read, “Man is the expression of God’s being” (p. 470). Because man is the very expression of God, subordinate only to Him and therefore unbounded by any sense of human limitations, we are never lacking—anything. And for this revelation, we can always be thankful.
Christ Jesus voiced gratitude for God’s goodness before the human evidence was apparent. Before he raised Lazarus, who had lain in a grave for four days, Jesus thanked God: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). When his disciples, drawing conclusions from a limited, material viewpoint, told Jesus that there were only five loaves and two fishes to feed a company of thousands. Jesus’ response was to first give thanks. Then he distributed the few loaves and fishes to the disciples who gave them to the multitude until not only all five thousand were fed but there were baskets of fragments remaining. Jesus then instructed the disciples to gather up the fragments so that nothing was lost (see John 6:5–13).
What part did gratitude play in these demonstrations? Christ Jesus’ unwavering conviction of man’s spiritual oneness with his eternal source, despite material sense testimony to the contrary, was evidenced by his grateful acknowledgment of God’s presence and power. In both the case of Lazarus and the feeding of the multitude, Jesus’ realization of man’s unity with divine Love brought forth the practical evidence in ways that met the human need. In the case of Lazarus, the false, mortal sense of man as living and dying in a material body fell away, and the spiritual fact of man’s life in God was demonstrated. The commonly held lie of the material senses was never a fact for Jesus. And when he fed the multitude, the sense of man as subject to the belief of human limitations—in this case, not enough food—was overturned by Jesus, who understood man to be spiritual and complete, always cared for by the Father. For this truth, Jesus confidently gave thanks; the resulting abundance demonstrated his understanding of God’s unending supply.
Many years ago, when new to the study of Christian Science, I was challenged by a condition with which I had seen family members struggle. Each day when movement seemed particularly painful, I turned my thought to God and gave thanks for every bit of spiritual understanding my Father-Mother had given me. Although I do not recall my prayers specifically, I know that I gratefully acknowledged a newfound understanding of my spiritual identity as the child of God, my unity with all that He includes, and the resultant freedom and bliss which I always express as God’s daughter. I am certain, too, that I thanked God for Christian Science, which was unfolding to me the truth of my eternal, spiritual identity. Soon, I was permanently healed of what had seemed an inherited disease.
The humble and continual acknowledgment of God’s blessings obliterates any sense of being separated from God, good.
What appeared to be a painful bodily condition was proven to be nothing more than a false, mental suggestion that I lived in matter and was subject to it. My grateful acknowledgment of my life in God, Spirit, lifted my thought to my inherent and continuous harmony, and at the same time closed the door on the lie of life and intelligence in matter. In a measure, I had followed our Way-shower, Christ Jesus, by acknowledging first the truth of my perfect likeness to God and thanking God for this fact, even while the testimony of the senses claimed the opposite (see Science and Health, p. 288). I was not listening to the lie! It had no place in my thought, which was filled with gratitude and love for God.
When one ponders the relationship of gratitude to healing, it is clear that the humble and continual acknowledgment of God’s blessings obliterates any sense of being separated from God, good. When thought is joyously filled with the truth of man’s unity with God, uplifted to perceive his spiritual identity as divine Love’s own expression, there is no place for the opposite material error to enter in. A grateful heart, filled with Truth and Love, naturally resists the downward pull of materiality.
In gratitude one humbly looks up to God for the truth of being and understands more clearly the spiritual reality of all things, where man is known as God beholds him, freely expressing health, happiness, and harmony, eternally. This is scientific prayer, which joyously affirms the allness of God, good, and knows the nothingness of any opposite power.
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