Autumn is my favorite season. I am always glad to no longer be baked alive in the heat of the southern summers. More than just the cool weather, there is something peaceful about the fall. As the leaves turn into a wonderful array of color and the crisp mornings nip noses, I love to feel the literal change in the air all around me. These days naturally help me feel gratitude as I sit outside and contemplate the many blessings I see in my life. Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year.
As I was reading this week’s Come Follow Me about the Jaredites’ journey to the promised land, it made me think of another example of thanksgiving. These blessed people were led by the Lord personally.
Ether 3:7 says “And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.”
During the three hundred and forty-four days tossed upon the sea, the Jaredites never failed to praise and honor their God. Ether 6: 8-9 records, “And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind. And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.”
For nearly a year, these people were tossed around the ocean with their loved ones, animals and supplies for a new world. They did not know where they were going but the Lord knew, and they trusted Him.
“And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 12:6) Can you imagine the joy they felt? Can you see their tears in your mind’s eye? Can you trust the Lord to carry you through your own journeys across the great deep?
I recently had a moment when life’s struggles were sucking me in. I started feeling sorry for myself. Rather than get trapped in the “wo is me” attitude, I decided to thank the Lord for every blessing I could possibly think of. At first, I was just spitting out as many random things as I could but as the minutes went on, something in my heart changed. I recognized the goodness of God, His mercies, and His watchfulness. I realized that He knows our needs and when the time is right, He will provide in His own way. Gratitude changed my heart.
Elder Uchtdorf wisely said, “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.”1
If we are able employ gratitude and express joy due to the Lord’s tender mercies, He will bring us to our own promised land, the rewards of which are unimaginable.
1 “Grateful in Any Circumstances”, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2014 General Conference