Gratitude is a commandment. “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” (D&C 59:7)
President James E. Faust said:
One of the advantages of having lived a long time is that you can often remember when you had it worse. I am grateful to have lived long enough to have known some of the blessings of adversity.
He talks about growing up during the Great Depression and how, “Rather than create a spirit of envy or anger for what we did not have, it developed in many a spirit of gratitude for the meager, simple things which we were blessed.”
Here are some personal examples of blessings born of adversity, for which I am thankful:
- Four years ago, my step daughter’s dad passed away. Late that same night, our bishop showed up at our house with scriptures and prayers and soothing words which would carry us through the night. This was while he was mourning the recent loss of his own beloved wife.
- Four and a half years ago, when I discovered I had prostate cancer, two beloved members of our ward family arrived at the house with a Priesthood Blessing. So far all is well.
- Several years ago, a wonderful couple from our ward braved terrible weather in an unfamiliar part of town, to sit with my critically ill father-in-law in the hospital for a few hours when no family member could be there. Their presence and the Holy Spirit brought the family comfort during a difficult time.
- More recently, when I was in the hospital for a short time, two of my priesthood brethren showed up with a blessing that brightened my day and comforted me with a feeling of peace.
These few examples are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more. They did much to develop in our family a spirit of gratitude for the love and service demonstrated by members of our ward family. They brought a feeling of peace and the presence of the Spirit; as well as an affirmation of the power of the priesthood and the hand of God in our lives.
Gratitude is also something that Our Savior taught us through many parables and by way of His examples.
the Lord Jesus the same night … he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you. (1 Cor. 11:23–24.)
And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. (Mark 14:23.)
Perhaps on Sunday mornings, as we think of Our Savior, many of us prepare ourselves by giving thanks for His atoning sacrifice before we partake of the sacrament.
And of course, the commandment to give thanks, like all of God’s commandments are intended to bring us happiness. Thomas S. Monson once stated:
Think to thank. In these three words is the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, a formula for enduring friendship, and a pattern for personal happiness” (Pathways to Perfection , 254).
So I’ve been thinking and I would like to take a few minutes to thank our Lord for the following:
I thank our Heavenly Father for my eternal companion, Alma.
I thank our Heavenly Father for my eternal companion, Alma.
She’s my best friend. She keeps me grounded. She respects my Priesthood and demands that I honor it. If she senses that my hold on the iron rod is slipping, she gently wraps her hand around mine and tightens my grip.
Mothers and fathers.
To say that I was a difficult child is an understatement. I was even more difficult as a young man. Yet, what I learned from my parents was unconditional love and devotion. They never gave up on me, even when it seemed hopeless. I also give thanks for the mothers and fathers I’ve met in this ward. I see that same kind of love. It’s instructive and inspiring.
To my own children as well as my step-children. Those of you who have yet to have children will not understand how much I love you until you do. A friend once told me that only by having children can one begin to understand Our Heavenly Father’s love for us. I believe that. I’m also grateful for all of the children in our ward and the love and spirit you bring.
I’m grateful for the love and the presence of the Holy Spirit I feel among the members of this ward. I’m grateful for the many members of our ward family who have been there for my family time and time again.
I’m grateful for our counselors who I know are truly chosen by our Lord, as they have been given wisdom very rarely seen in men so young. I’m grateful for our Bishop and his example and steadfastness as well as the sincere love he has for the members of his ward.
Finally, I’d like to go to a talk by Thomas S. Monson entitled, An Attitude of Gratitude:
May we acknowledge gratitude for our country—the land of our birth.When we ponder that vast throng who have died honorably defending home and hearth, we contemplate those immortal words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The feelings of heartfelt gratitude for the supreme sacrifice made by so many cannot be confined to a Memorial Day, a military parade, or a decorated grave.Finally—even supremely—let us reflect gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where does my spirit go when I die? His called missionaries bring to those who live in darkness the light of divine truth:
Go, ye messengers of glory;
Run, ye legates of the skies.
Go and tell the pleasing story
That a glorious angel flies,
Great and mighty, great and mighty,
With a message from the skies.
He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to serve. He taught us how to live. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved.
Only He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Earlier, perhaps perceiving the culmination of His earthly mission, He spoke the lament, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” “No room in the inn” was not a singular expression of rejection—just the first. Yet He invites you and me to host Him. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Who was this Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief? Who is this King of glory, this Lord of hosts? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the author of our salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.” He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.” He pleads, “Keep my commandments.”
Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His word. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.
My sincere prayer is that we may, in our individual lives, reflect that marvelous virtue: an attitude of gratitude.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with my own testimony that a continual spirit and expression of gratitude for the many blessings which we receive leads to a happy and successful life and opens our eyes to the many other blessings that surround us. I say these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.