I was at a recent Wednesday evening testimony meeting at my Christian Science branch church, listening to the gospel narrative of Jesus’ healing the ten lepers (see Luke 17:12–19). A corresponding citation from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy was also read. It says, “Of the ten lepers whom Jesus healed, but one returned to give God thanks,—that is, to acknowledge the divine Principle which had healed him” (p. 94).
I realized, for the first time, that this is talking about specifically giving thanks to God—not just giving thanks. That didn’t mean the other nine people weren’t thankful. They were probably elated to be rid of a deforming, painful disease. That must have made them very happy. But their lack of gratitude to God left the healing, in their minds, as a mere human cure.
Only by bringing God into the picture do we recognize that healing is actually spiritual, is of God. As a poem in the Christian Science Hymnal says, “Only God can bring us gladness, / Only God can give us peace” (No. 263). If gladness and peace come only from God, then our gratitude should always start with God.
This may seem like a little thing, but mentioning God when you give thanks is actually very significant. Unfortunately, too often I’ve heard people expressing gratitude for help and healing but not mentioning God even once. Yes, even at church.
Maybe it’s assumed. Maybe it’s a simple oversight. But if God did it, if He is responsible for it, then give Him the credit!
This is not about semantics or appeasing the Almighty. True healing results from our spiritual understanding of God and our relation to Him. Gratitude to God is a vital aid in this understanding, and a crucial part of this relationship. This gratitude acknowledges that there is a divine guidance, love, and grace at work in our lives.
A statement very familiar to perhaps many Christian Scientists reads: “How empty are our conceptions of Deity! … 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” (Science and Health, p. 3).
In other words, gratitude to God is essential to our progress. If we want to avail ourselves of more “blessings” and “be fitted to receive more,” then we need to be sure to acknowledge our heavenly Father-Mother God as the object of our gratitude. That way, we won’t just use the exclamation, “Thank God!” We’ll mean it!
Phil Davis is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher from Chicago, Illinois.
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