Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomePersonalBut First, Thanksgiving: Receiving the Blessings of Gratitude

But First, Thanksgiving: Receiving the Blessings of Gratitude

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Can there be any doubt that giving thanks is a commandment?

“Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things” (D&C 59:7).

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

“Commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things” (Mosiah 26:39).

God does not require our thanks for the same reasons we often expect of each other. It doesn’t gratify His pride. It’s not so He can pat Himself on the back that we remembered our p’s and q’s. Every time that our Heavenly Father gives us a commandment, it is because He knows that commandment will bless us.

President Oaks has verified this by saying, “By keeping his commandments, we qualify for His blessings.”

If the Lord has commanded us to express our gratitude to Him (and He has), and keeping His commandments will qualify us for blessings (which it does), how does expressing gratitude to Him bless us?

Vaughn E. Worthen, Ph.D. and associate director of the Counseling and Career Center at Brigham Young University described a myriad of “blessings” available to the grateful.

“Current case studies and research show that cultivating and practicing gratitude can reduce symptoms in cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Practicing gratitude can also lead to increases in optimism, vitality, happiness, a sense of well-being, and a greater satisfaction with life. Grateful people tend to generate more positive memories, reminding them of the good in their lives. Those with higher levels of gratitude are viewed as more empathetic and supportive, more forgiving, and more likely to assist others. Grateful people also report feeling less envious and more generous with their possessions. They thus enjoy better quality relationships.”

“Gratitude also helps in coping with adversity. Those who practice it in times of adversity are more likely to seek and find a ‘silver lining’ in their experiences. Finally, those who try to feel greater levels of gratitude report fewer physical complaints, more time spent in physical exercise, and better sleep duration and quality.” [Emphases added.]

This is quite a list of blessings, but it is still incomplete.

As mentioned above, all gratitude to the Lord paves the way for further blessings. When we are first learning to pray, we are instructed to first address our Father, then to express our gratitude, and then we are taught to ask for what we need and desire. The expression of our gratitude gives greater strength to our requests because being grateful unlocks further blessings.

When we needed relief from the pandemic that gripped the world, what was our prophet inspired to do? Express gratitude!

 

The Lord even directed President Nelson on just how we should go about it. President Nelson described receiving the inspiration for the Healing Power of Gratitude video and #GiveThanks campaign this way:

“A few weeks ago, I woke in the middle of the night with the thought that I should offer a prayer of gratitude to God for all of His children around the globe. Thoughts flooded my mind of all of the things for which we should be grateful and how expressing that gratitude could become a healing spirit in our lives. As the inspiration came, specific details, including when and how I should share this message, came to my mind and heart. The video message shared today was not one that came by chance; it is one that came from heaven.”

The Lord directed the prophet on how we could and should express gratitude because He had blessings available to us if we would observe His counsel.

Expressing gratitude to the Lord should always be our first step in drawing closer to the Lord and also when we need further blessings.

We celebrated Halloween not that long ago, and Christmas is already on the horizon, but let us not fail to overlook Thanksgiving (both as a holiday and a way of life). Put up whatever decorations you like—pumpkins or twinkling lights and trees—but take the time to ponder your blessings. Let that pondering turn to true expressions of gratitude to the Lord for all the ways He blesses you. Not only will it provide mental, spiritual, and physical blessings, but it will also open the door to receiving the further blessings you need and seek.

So, before we transition to all wants and wish lists, let’s first remember to give thanks. And if we do, “the things of this earth shall be added unto [us], even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).

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Rebecca Wright
Rebecca Wright
Becca loves audiobooks, dark chocolate, singing, hiking, walking,  going out with her husband, and raising their chickens and children. She still wants to meet her hero Sheri Dew, see flowing lava and a blue whale in person, and uplift others with her words.

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