Years ago my sister-in-law stitched a saying that I love,
It goes along with one of my favorite scriptures, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) We have been blessed with so much! I firmly believe ingratitude and discontentment is a tool of the devil to get us to covet and always want for more when in reality we have enough and to spare.
It can be so hard to be grateful when we find ourselves in difficult and less than ideal circumstances. It can also be hard to show gratitude when things are going so well we take it for granted and forget to ‘see’ what is around us. In church on Sunday we had a discussion about giving thanks. One sister shared how she was teaching young women a few weeks earlier and asked them to fill out a paper with things they were thankful for. They couldn’t do it! Most were so used to having what they needed they hadn’t stopped to realize just how blessed they truly were.
I love to listen to children pray. They are so sincere when they thank God for those things we often overlook. Their keen observations provide deep insight into how we, too, should be ever watchful of all the Lord blesses us with. Is it any wonder the Lord commands us to become as a little child?
One of my favorite songs is called ‘Gratitude’ by Nichole Nordeman. I have this on every playlist on my ipod and listen to it at least once a day. The message of the song is that no matter what situation we find ourselves in we will continue to thank the Lord. Take a listen.
It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.
As disciples of Christ, we are commanded to “thank the Lord [our] God in all things,” to “sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,” and to “let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God.”
Why does God command us to be grateful?
All of His commandments are given to make blessings available to us. Commandments are opportunities to exercise our agency and to receive blessings. Our loving Heavenly Father knows that choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy and great happiness. . .
We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.
This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.
When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
I love that connection between commandments and blessings. We are promised, “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) The key is to receive all things – the good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet, the joys with the sorrows.