(Written by Van Driessen who writes about health and consciousness from the perspective of the practice of Christian Science. He is also the spokesperson for Christian Science in New York.)

Why aren’t we all grateful all the time? Perhaps, some of us have felt at times like the cartoon character Bart Simpson, who, when asked to say grace said, “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.” Bart wasn’t looking very far beyond the mashed potatoes in front of him.

But maybe we should look farther because–to name a few reasons–gratitude gives us more happiness,  more feeling of being loved and cared for, more motivation to help others, and even better sleep, according to lots of  research.

Abe Lincoln looked higher and gave his sense of why we should be grateful. He said:

“We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown; but we have forgotten God! We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

Lincoln’s attitude must have been part of the reason, in addition to recent victories by the Union in the Civil War, that he formally established a national day of thanksgiving that year, 1863. His proclamation said that the Thanksgiving holiday was to be “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in heaven.”

Perhaps I had some of Bart Simpson’s attitude in me, because it had been a while since I’d spent much time being consistently grateful. But  then I learned a lesson about the importance of gratitude to our health and wellbeing.

I was experiencing pain after eating, which had caused me to lose weight and feel weak a lot.  It didn’t seem I had much to be grateful for. I was in the habit of reading the Bible for both inspiration and healing, and at one low point I opened it to a verse that really caught my attention. It’s from Psalms and says: “I will praise thee (God), for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” What struck me was that if God made me and God is good, then health had to be part of the package. This message was like a command to me to be grateful in recognizing that God made me and that everything that God made worked for good.

So, I began to persistently thank God for making me so wonderfully. Over the next few weeks, the pain lessened and then disappeared, my eating returned to normal and shortly after that so did my weight and strength. To me, this kind of healing is not explainable as just mind over matter. I’ve found that the regular discipline of deepening my conviction of God’s reality and goodness replaces the fear that I believe contributes to sickness.

That healing happened six years ago now. And I guess you can say that I’ve replaced any vestige of a Bart Simpson attitude with daily gratitude for my health and for all the blessings Lincoln noted were the gifts of a beneficent Father.

© 2015 by Van Driessen.  All rights reserved.

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