Monday, November 21, 2011

Constructive Thoughts: Gratitude

I really dislike Thanksgiving.

Oh, please do not get me wrong: My dislike stems from some childhood issues with the actual day itself. I love the turkey (dry) and all the fixings. I love the idea of Thanksgiving. And I realize the importance of that idea. In fact, I was fairly slapped across the face this weekend after moaning and complaining about my 'illnesses' and my various temporal plights for the past week.

In my studies over the weekend, I came across a little gem about gratitude from President Ezra Taft Benson that really struck home to me.

The Prophet Joseph Smith is reported to have said that one of the greatest sins for which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty would be ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a serious sin. There’s a great tendency for us in our prayers to ask for additional blessings. Sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received....

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....

I hope we can be happy where we are, be grateful for our blessings—now, here—accept the challenge that is ours and make the most of it, and not be envious of others....

Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth. It is in the depths, not at the pinnacle of success, where men and women learn the lessons that help to make them strong. The hour of a man’s success is his greatest danger. It sometimes takes reverses to develop us into strong, courageous characters.

When reverses come, we need the Church and the gospel all the more. I’m satisfied that it’s possible for men and women who have testimonies of the divinity of this work to meet any possible reversal and still keep their spirit sweet and their faith strong....

Yes, with the help of our Heavenly Father and His blessings, we can meet every reversal that can possibly come. And every reversal can be turned to our benefit and blessing and will make us stronger, more courageous, more godlike.
God help us to be grateful for our blessings and never to be guilty of the sin of ingratitude.
Ezra Taft Benson, "All This and the Gospel Too," New Era, Nov. 1991, 4

And then I was reminded by the Psalmist,
Psalm 34
1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
22 The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
All this is to say, simply, in the hubbub of the coming week, amid the turkey, the cranberries, the football games, and the ridiculous midnight sales, remember that we--every single one of us--has a heck of a lot for which we need to be grateful.