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"Be ye thankful"
M. ETHEL WHITCOMB


         In his epistle to the Colossians Paul says, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, . . . and be ye thankful." "Thankful for what," exclaims the man who looks only at human circumstances, and whose eyes have become blinded by the fog of self-pity. "No one was ever in a harder place than I. There is absolutely nothing for which to be grateful." Let the thankless one pause and consider; for at the moment he is uttering these words of bitterness, he is standing in the very presence of a Father who in ceaseless tenderness is ever imparting health and joy and boundless good to every child of His love. Well may each repent as he thinks of the promise, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine," and with a heart softened by humility, go forth to live a life of gratitude.

         Christian Science is awakening thousands from dormant, deadened, thankless dreaming into helpful, joyful, praiseful living. It teaches men to be grateful for the minutest blessings, and not alone for the good which is seen, but for the good which divine Love is continually bestowing and which only awaits man's acceptance. Gratitude and health walk hand in hand. Disease and ingratitude are companions; in fact, that which appears as disease is only an accumulation of thought shadows such as fear, worry, hate, discontent, discord, and ingratitude objectified upon the body; but the consciousness which is illumined by the light of spiritual thanksgiving offers no place for such shadows. How important, then, for each one earnestly to strive to know the health-giving, joy-inspiring quality of thankfulness, and seek Truth, as Mrs. Eddy teaches, from the "summit of devout consecration, with the oil of gladness and the perfume of gratitude" (Science and Health p. 367). In the words of a poet:

Thou who hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more,
a grateful heart,
Not thankful when it pleaseth me
As if the blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose very pulse shall be Thy praise.

         One can hardly be placed in any human situation where he cannot find something for which to give thanks. An elderly woman, whose room for a season was under the eaves of an old tumble down building, was asked what she did the night before in the storm, when it rained in upon her bed. With beaming face she replied, "Why I thought, What are a few drops among so many?" She had learned the meaning of the saying, "Gratitude is the bright weather of the heart." Again, when this grateful woman was given a basket of needed food, she looked up with a face illumined with joy and exclaimed, "Him again! Him again!" She saw behind the little gift the unfailing love of the Father, and gave thanks to Him. "Ah," thought the one who heard it, "is there anything on earth so beautiful as a thankful heart!" And humbly she prayed that she too might feel its holy touch and know such companionship with Love.

         How many homes would made happy if each member of the household would express appreciation for the little kindnesses received from the others. The sunshine of gratitude soon chases away the shadows of inharmony and discontent. The thankless man, like the one wearing blue glasses, cannot get a correct view of anything. Looking through the dark lens of ingratitude, he cannot see anything as it really is; his work seems drudgery and he believes that no one rightly values him. With drooping mouth the thankless man goes on his way thinking that he has the hardest problem in the world. Heavy indeed is the baggage of ingratitude! It matters not how sweetly the birds sing, or how gaily the little flowers nod their heads to him as he passes by, he sees them not and he hears them not, for the thankless man is deaf and blind.

         But let the human heart be touched by one bright ray of gratitude to God and interest in one's fellow men, and the world is transformed. Work is no longer irksome, but instead a joyful privilege. The blind eyes are opened, the deaf ears are unstopped. In the place of discordant people, the one awakened by Truth sees God's loving children everywhere and longs to serve them. He can hear for the first time the angel messages that pass from God to man, and lo! he hears the song of the birds and joins with them in praise to his creator. Appreciation is always followed by appropriation; so now he begins to feel and know the health and harmony and bounty that always have been present, but from which he has been shut out by the wall of ingratitude. As a soldier marching to music feels no fatigue, so the grateful man knows no weariness as he marches to the triumphant song of thanksgiving. He knows he is under the law of opportunity, for impartial good is ever bestowing its all upon him, and he awakes to avail himself of it through obedience, unselfishness, and praise.

         One has only to look about to see that the thankless man is the joyless man, while the thankful man is the joyful man. How critical and sour is the thankless man! He finds something wrong with everything and everybody. He never goes out when the weather seems quite right, and he never sees anything that to his sense is being carried on in just the right way. He will always be found looking at the faults of others through the magnifying glass of egotism. How different with the thankful man! Like the honey bee, he finds something sweet in every place, in every person, in every day, and he gathers the sweetness and distributes it to all through gentle words, and deeds of love. The world is a fairer place for the grateful man; his face always shines and his presence is a benediction. One feels refreshed upon meeting him, for he lifts one instantly from the bog of indifference into the upland of a quickened sense of life. The chains of mental depression which seem to bind thousands, break like threads under the spiritual touch of thanksgiving.

         The scientific Christian does not call discord, disease, poverty, and death real because the mortal eye sees them; for he believes what he says, that God is omnipotent good, and so he knows that right where these deceptive errors appear to be, health, harmony, abundance, and life are really present. He walks by faith and not by sight, and rejoices every step of the way. He does not wait for the evidence to change before he gives thanks, but rather gives thanks until false testimony falls before resistless Truth and Love, as did the walls of Jericho before the triumphant shouting of those who stood with God.

         Those who understand the Science of gratitude give thanks under all circumstances. A certain elderly woman who was an earnest student of Christian Science, was at one time afflicted with a dropsical condition, and as she was dependent upon her own efforts for support, the situation seemed alarming. In speaking of the experience she said: "For some days I declared God's allness and the nothingness of His opposite in a halfhearted way, first looking to God and then watching the body. At last I awakened, and calling myself by name I said, ‘How many powers do you believe in?’ The answer was, ‘One!’ ‘Is this power good or bad?’ ‘Good,’ was the reply. ‘Where is He?’ ‘Here!’ I exclaimed. At this moment I actually saw that because God, good, is here and is the only power and presence, that which seemed so real could not in reality exist, and I exclaimed aloud, ‘Oh, this appearance is not true, and I am so glad!’ For three days I lived in thanksgiving. Whenever I noticed the manifestation on the body, I almost sang, ‘It is not true, and I am so glad!’ While in that attitude of thanksgiving, the condition entirely disappeared from my body." And so the good woman proved the healing efficacy of spiritual thanksgiving.

         There is no record in Scripture or in general history of anyone who was ever delivered from trouble through ingratitude or discouragement; but there are many examples in the Bible and thousands in daily experience where men have been delivered like this woman from disease and from sorrow through thanksgiving inspired by the realization of Love's all-presence. The man who is thankful one moment and thankless the next is like the chameleon, wearing different hues with every circumstance. Not so the truly awakened man, for he manifests the unchangeableness of God. He will not turn from the true concept of man as God's image, despite every appearance of the opposite. Because he refuses to take his eyes from the radiant reality of things, he can "rejoice evermore."

         Thanksgiving is one of the purest qualities of thought, for it brings man into holy companionship with the Father. It is not passive, but positive, absolute, and healing. We have no more glorious example of this than Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. When every evidence spoke of death and sorrow, lifting his eyes to Life and victory he said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." He gave thanks before the demonstration was made, and at that exalted moment certainly, expectation and thanksgiving being united, reflected divine power even the claim of death could not stand before such knowing.

         What a sublime lesson our Master was teaching all men throughout all time! May we imbibe its holy meaning, and when error of any kind presents itself, instead of wasting time with sighing, may we lift our thoughts above belief in false testimony, and clinging fast to the everlasting facts of Life, say, Father, I thank Thee that irresistible Truth does triumph over every claim of error.

         What depth of meaning for the sick, the enslaved, lies in the words, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man . . . open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him." Think of it! The moment a man opens the door of his thought to the Christ idea, the bounty and goodness of Love which forever surround him will flood his being with health and joy. Well may each one ponder what the mental qualities are that close the door on the sunlight of Love, and those that open it. Did one ever feel the tender presence of Christ, Truth, when darkened by ingratitude, or ruled by pride, discord, or self-love? No. While in such an attitude, one lives in the cellar of discontent, with his door bolted upon the Christ.

         If any one doubts the ability of gratitude and unselfed love to open the door for the healing sunlight to pour into his consciousness, let him earnestly try for one day to be grateful. Let him give thanks for every human kindness, and above all for ever-present Love that tenderly awaits his acceptance. Then ask such a one at night if this has not opened his door, if he has not felt the gentle presence of the Father-Mother God, and if Christ, Truth, has not come in and supped with him. In humility and love he will answer that it is indeed true, for he has felt for himself the life giving touch of thanksgiving, and has found that through its open door the angels of health and peace do enter consciousness.

         Lillo wrote: "When thankfulness o'erflows the swelling heart and breathes in free and uncorrupted praise for benefits received, propitious heaven takes such acknowledgment as fragrant incense, and doubles all the blessings." The beauty seen in the sky at the sunset hour does not compare with the radiance which illumines the consciousness of the one who ever gives thanks. To him there are no unfavorable surroundings, no hard circumstances, no burdens, for by the steps of gratitude he mounts to the ever-present heaven. How our hearts are thrilled with thankfulness as we ponder the meaning of the words of Scripture, "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."

         Awake to hope, O weary one, for the ever-present, ever-loving Father rejoices over His creation with singing! Are we, the sons and daughters of a rejoicing God, responding to His wondrous song of redemption with spontaneity, gratitude, and praise? As bird answers bird, so may we be ever ready to answer the song of infinite Love with our song of thanksgiving, making melody in our hearts to the Lord. The alert, responsive, love-illumined consciousness hears the sweet symphony of Spirit and joins with Love in strains of purest praise.

 

"'Be ye thankful'" by M. Ethel Whitcomb
The Christian Science Journal, January, 1917
 

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