Reflections on Gratitude

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Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormon") and serves as the Ward Mission Leader in the Annapolis, Maryland Ward.

Alma 26:8 - "Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever."

Traditionally, every third Thursday in November is set aside for the celebration of Thanksgiving Day. This is a time when families, friends, and loved ones gather together to watch Thanksgiving Day parades, followed by the many football games, and to partake of the delicious, mouth watering feast that has been lovingly prepared. On this special day homes are filled with the savory aroma of turkey or ham cooking in the oven, as well as, all of the other delectable sustenance that help to make the meal complete. As the family gathers around the dinner table heads are bowed and a prayer of thanksgiving is offered. Thanks is not only given for the meal that has been set before them and the loving hands that prepared it, but thanks is also given to the One who bestows upon each person such bountiful blessings as family, friends, health, strength, warmth, security, and prosperity.

Mormon Family giving thanks

However, Thanksgiving Day should not be the only day that we pause to give thanks, but rather, every day of our lives should be a day of “Thanks Giving.” In Ephesians 5:20 we are taught that we are to be found “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6 further teaches us to “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” to “let [our] requests be made known unto God“.The Apostle Paul also reminds us in Philippians 4:4-5 that we should “Rejoice in the Lord always” and “let [our] moderation be known unto all men for “the Lord is at hand.“

In our daily lives do we truly express a heart of thanksgiving to our Great Provider for all that he has done and continues to do for us? If we do, what is it that motivates us to do so? Do we thank Him because of our love for Him, or do we remember to thank Him only after we get the things that we desire? J. Reuben Clark Jr. said, “A blessing always carries with it a responsibility” (CR, October 1954, p.38). As Christians we have the responsibility and privilege to give thanks for everything “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning [us]” (1 Thessalonians 1:18). Therefore, we should take time each day to reflect upon the many blessings that are ours. We all need to take some time from our busy lives and schedules and realize that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

President David O. McKay said, “Thankfulness is measured by the number of words; gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions” (CR, October 1955, p.4). When others see how we express our thanksgiving and gratitude to our Heavenly Father they begin to recognize to whom we turn as our source of life and strength thus bringing conviction, as well as, inspiration to their own lives. Take a look at the life of the psalmist David as an example. He lived his life in a constant state of praise and adoration to the Lord. He not only demonstrated his thankfulness to God through his prayers, but it also flowed through his worship, his speech and his actions. He composed psalms about God’s love, and he danced in jubilation of the things that God had done in his life. Anyone who knew David knew exactly who it was to whom he gave thanks. Our Heavenly Father is pleased by the glory our sincere adoration brings to Him. A grateful heart prepares the way for Him to do a marvelous work in our lives.

We should also teach our children to have hearts of thanksgiving. By so doing they will become better prepared to respond to the trials and adversities that they will encounter in life. Sir John Marks Templeton, an American-born British stock investor, businessman and philanthropist, beautifully expressed this thought when he said, “How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child’s personality. A child is resentful, negative - or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.”

And now, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6,7). “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15). In the Sacred name of Him who is worthy of all praise and thanksgiving. Even Jesus the Christ. Amen.