Minister’s fourm: A thankful heart
November 22, 2005
As the holiday season approaches and the year draws to a close, it is appropriate to consider the many things for which we may give thanks.
Personally, I am astonished each year at the many blessings for which I have to be grateful for, and yet I wonder during times of frustration or struggle why it is so easy to feel deprived and wanting. As time goes on, I have learned and continue to learn that recognizing my blessings and being thankful impacts my daily happiness and my ability to be successful in all areas of my life. Having a thankful heart reminds me that there is so much more to life than what may be important to me at the moment. There are so many degrees of gratitude it can almost be overwhelming to stop and think about them. Not everyone is blessed in the same way – we are all different, but we are all children of God and have been given much to be thankful for.
I have also learned that acknowledging my blessings and having a thankful attitude requires humility and results in an increase of my love for God, my family, friends, and fellowmen. S. Michael Wilcox clearly summed it up when he said, “In a world where we have been given so much and might be severely tempted to pride, gratitude stands as a barrier, for one cannot feel pride and gratitude at the same time.” Isn’t that true! It is impossible isn’t it? – to feel prideful and selfish when we sincerely give thanks or express gratitude?
A thankful heart is a learned attitude, it does not come naturally. A perfect example of this is illustrated in the scriptures in Luke 17:11-19. Outside of a city, the Savior was approached by 10 men who were lepers. We read, “And they lifted up their voices, and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ ” Jesus then gave them direction on what they should do to be clean. As they turned to follow his counsel they were healed, one of them turned back to Jesus “and glorified God … And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks.” Why did the nine others not search their own hearts for the gratitude that they surely must have felt from the miracle of being healed, and also return to the Savior and give thanks to him? Perhaps they were so caught up in their new-found blessing they forgot to recognize where it came from.
A wonderful hymn reminds us of our blessings and that the Lord watches over us with these inspiring words:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
Recommended Stories For You
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. …
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
(Hymns, 1985, No. 241)
It is my hope that we may all strive to be more aware of the great blessings in our lives. By simply acknowledging even the little things, we realize how much we have to be thankful for, and where those blessings came from – a loving God, who knows us, loves us, and wants us to be happy. So let us all ask ourselves, “How did God bless me today?” And as Henry B. Eyring has said, “If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes, you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God’s hand in your life.”
-Travis K. Lee is bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.