The Power of Gratitude: A Christian Science Perspective
Guest Commentary by Lance Matteson
A friend and fellow Christian Science church member recently posed some thoughtful questions about Thanksgiving. She asked if this holiday is becoming simply “Turkey Day” — that is, are we at risk of missing the importance of actually pausing to be grateful?
And what does gratitude even mean or look like? Is it simply an expression of thanks for basics such as food, warmth, transportation, family, friends, etc.?
This is a healthy start perhaps, but my friend was hinting at something deeper. She went on to affirm that countless people feel cognizant of a higher power, a divine being, God, the fount of all good and worthy of our deepest gratitude.
Her questions prompted me to ponder the subject anew, to look more carefully for that deepest sense of gratitude in my own life and how I can better express it – its divinity, its selflessness and its power.
What Is Gratitude?
At its heart, gratitude is the recognition of good. But for me, there is a higher promise that my friend acknowledged — God as the source of all good. Thus my gratitude for good in all its wondrous expressions includes praising God.
Identifying good with the living universal God, every thankful thought is a praise of God, good. When we appreciate a kind gesture in traffic or at the store, we are getting an inkling of divine love, imaging forth God’s own nature.
Some may argue that altruism is biologically evolved, but humanity’s intuition finds such kindness to be a purely spiritual sense, a gratuitous neighborly love born of God, like conscience.
This brotherly and sisterly gratitude that reflects God is unselfish to the core. Even while grateful for the good in my life, true gratitude is more than this and necessarily includes others. Sincere thankfulness sees the good in one’s family and life as a token, a promise and an earnest expression of universal good.
Unselfishness leaves no one out. Its arms are open to all. It repents of selfishness and looks to divine grace for all (starting with oneself). It foresees and works for rectification of past wrongs and rejoices in every step toward equity.
The Universal Golden Rule
The Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), accepted in some form by virtually every religion, defines unselfish love and empathy clearly for us. It is also a call to action.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, wrote in her book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
“Action expresses more gratitude than speech.“
So it is that gratitude is powerful and empowering. Bible narratives abound with examples of this in stories of safety, victory and healing — incident to praising God.
Indeed, Jesus’ triumphant prayer for the revival of Lazarus began with his gratitude to God. From this perspective, gratitude — like prayer — is not an “also ran” emotion nor an impotent wisp of positivity in the face of despair, cruelty and suffering. On the contrary, it is quietly defiant of them, challenging their legitimacy and their sense of inevitability on the basis of the conviction of the presence and power of good.
May we all actively recognize the power of gratitude for good! This Thanksgiving I’m going to strive to cherish this deeper expression of thanks. As the Psalmist writes:
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.Psalm 30:12
The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.