I was surely the least well-off person in the room at the Thanksgiving Day service. Churchgoers from the well-to-do neighborhood I was visiting gave thanks for things my 20-something self just didn’t have: homes of their own, marriages, careers. Yet I, too, was awash with gratitude. Through prayer, I’d trusted God to meet my need for a way to get to the US to be best man at my friend’s wedding, and in the States I’d trusted God to reveal necessary means to get me back to the UK. Both trusts had been realized in cash gifts from very unexpected sources who knew nothing of my particular needs.
So, lack blossomed into reasons to be grateful: my immediate financial need was met; the wedding was a joy; and I felt a profound sense of the reality and practicality of God’s care.
I also saw, as a hymn puts it, that gratitude itself is wealth:
Our gratitude is riches,
Complaint is poverty,
Our trials bloom in blessings,
They test our constancy.
O, life from joy is minted,
An everlasting gold,
True gladness is the treasure
That grateful hearts will hold.
(Vivian Burnett, Christian Science
Hymnal, No. 249, © CSBD)
What adoption of this spiritual wealth purchases is itself priceless. Gratitude undermines our fears and opens our hearts to the Christ—God’s message of spiritual reality—which conveys inspired solutions to our needs. Human logic might say we have to have mental or physical health, sufficient resources, and happiness in order to be thankful. But many have found an unconditionally grateful heart lifts them into the very consciousness of God’s goodness that brings these things to light.
This unconditional gratitude is native to our spiritual identity as God’s creation. Yielding to this spiritual sense of ourselves doesn’t prevent us from appreciating the people we love, the work we do, the country we live in, but it frees us from believing our thankfulness depends on these things. The highest, most liberating cause for gratitude is freely available to all, and is a powerful starting point for healing prayer. It is gratitude for the very fact that God is God—the infinitely powerful and eternally tender creator who forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases (see Psalms 103:3).
It’s impossible not to feel grateful when catching even a glimpse of the reality of this almighty and all-embracing creator. But our gratitude doesn’t end with gratefulness for God’s healing nature. Our deeper thanks include appreciating what it means to be God’s spiritual offspring, invariably loved and looked after by infinite goodness as its ever-cherished, spiritual reflection.
Here’s a snapshot of what being this reflection includes. Using the word man to mean everyone’s true, spiritual nature, Mrs. Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 says: “Man is the offspring and idea of the Supreme Being, whose law is perfect and infinite. In obedience to this law, man is forever unfolding the endless beatitudes of Being; for he is the image and likeness of infinite Life, Truth, and Love” (p. 82).
This divinely blessed spiritual identity is no abstract ideal compared to any personal possession or status we might have or desire. It is actually the material things in our lives that are less substantial than they appear, because their basis, matter, is itself illusive. So even the best of what matter seems to offer, being mortal, comes with built-in obsolescence. By contrast, divine Spirit is immortal, unchanging, and when we turn to Spirit, God, we receive timeless spiritual ideas, leading us to appropriate present expressions of good in our lives. Though the way in which the needed good is expressed may evolve over time, the underlying idea behind divinely demonstrated good is fixed forever, so the goodness itself is secure.
Enduring riches, then, are what we derive from Spirit, especially the priceless spiritual perception of divine perfection and its universal expression. This Christ view of being was best embodied by Jesus, who neither pursued material wealth nor hoarded it. His teachings even highlighted the emptiness and vulnerability in such prioritizing. He told of a man whose land yielded abundant crops, prompting him to make plans for greater barns in which to store them (see Luke 12:16–21). The Bible depicts the man as self-satisfiedly telling himself he had goods laid up for years, so he could relax, and simply “eat, drink, and be merry.” But this was a warped sense of abundance and happiness, buying into the false premise of mortal existence, which quickly let him down. He died before he could enjoy the hoarded fruits of his labor. Expanding the lesson to all of us, the parable concludes, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
What it looks like to be “rich toward God” is exemplified by Jesus’ life of unselfed service to God and humanity. But this spiritually prioritized, Christly life is no Spartan existence. Cherishing and proving the reality of divine goodness palpably blesses the one doing so. And each demonstration of this deeper goodness compounds its value far beyond the benefit to any one individual, because the good brought to light through spiritual understanding in one instance is uncovering what truly exists for everyone in every instance. On this basis of the universal reality of every demonstrated iota of good, Jesus healed countless individuals of sickness, provided food to thousands when virtually none was at hand, and even restored life to some who had died.
In several instances, the Bible notes Jesus giving God thanks before these remarkable feats. His was a ceaselessly grateful awareness of the everlasting nature of God’s abundant gift to all of harmony, health, and spiritual life.
This conscious awareness was pivotal to the ever-ongoing legacy of blessings Jesus bestowed on humanity, and it models the unselfish healing love we can each make our own, which invariably includes thankfulness and gladness. Whenever we feel this gratitude, we know we’re the richest person in the room . . . along with everyone else in the room! We’re all equally endowed with the ability to uncover the same God-centered, God-sourced, God-glorifying gratefulness.
Interested in more more Journal content?
Subscribe to JSH-Online to access The Christian Science Journal, along with the Christian Science Sentinel and The Herald of Christian Science. Get unlimited access to current issues, the searchable archive, podcasts, audio for issues, biographies about Mary Baker Eddy, and more. Already a subscriber? Log in