I would be most remiss if I did not speak about one of my favorite gifts. That is the gift of Gratitude. It can be found amoung the wealthy or the poor, amoung the sick or the healthy, amoung the strong or the feeble. It knows no boundries. It knows no religion or sect. It is a gift that can be bestowed to many, but they must choose to take it. I have found that gratitude can be one of the hardest gifts to possess. It can be one of the most difficult to remember. But it is also a gift that can literally change your life.
Someone once said that an ungrateful man is like a pig eating apples underneath the tree and never looking up to see where they came from. How often in our lives do we take the time to look up and be grateful for our blessings. How often do we even acknowledge that what we are given IS a blessing.
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
We need to be more grateful. It’s one of the marks of strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It’s so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation.
When I think of gratitude, I often think of the Prophet Joseph and his time in Liberty Jail. I think of his trials and tribulations. I think of the mobs, the beatings, the tar and feathers, the humiliations, the cold, hunger, and lonliness. I think of the stuggling saints who were driven from place to plance all in their search to find Zion. I think of Joseph in that filthy jail, surrounded by mean, dirty, and vidictive men, not for a period of days or weeks, but months. And finally, when it seemed as though he could stand it no longer, Joseph cried out and asked Heavenly Father why He would not intervene.
The answer came in revelation to the Prophet in these often quoted words perserved for all time in the Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment:Later, the Lord uttered this further statement:
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes”.
“Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).Gratitude requires awareness and effort on our part, not only for the large things, but for the smallest blessings that surround us. Gratitude can open our mind and our hearts to the love of our Heavenly Father. As we open our eyes and take the time to look around us, we will find many things that bear witness of Him. Gratitude inspires happiness in the simple, everyday things that make up our lives.
May the Lord help us to be grateful for our blessings and never to be guilty of the sin of ingratitude in our lives. May we choose to remember to thank Him for what we have been given and choose to acknowledge His hand in all areas of our lives. May we look a little harder to find the blessings in our trials, rather than blame Him because we think He does not listen.
“And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).“A happy home is but an earlier heaven. President George Albert Smith asked, ‘Do we want our homes to be happy? If we do, let them be the abiding place of prayer, thanksgiving and gratitude’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1944, p. 32.)”