Being grateful when it feels like there is little to be grateful about
This was at a time when the trials of life were heaped upon our family. We had a range of issues going on which all required large amounts of money to repair or replace. During these trials, I started counting dollar signs and as I did, I grew deeper and deeper into sadness and depression.
Issues of life
I recently discovered a video (see reference 1 below) on lds.org that reminded me that I needed to make a change. This was at a time when the trials of life were heaped upon our family. We had a range of issues going on which all required large amounts of money to repair or replace. During these trials, I started counting dollar signs and as I did, I grew deeper and deeper into sadness and depression.
What are you grateful for today?
My wonderful husband has the beautiful gift of looking around him and being able to see and be grateful for the blessings in his life. When he came home from work one day to find me in a hot temper and frustrated, he asked me, “What are you grateful for today?” I didn’t want to be grateful for anything, I just wanted to be mad. I accepted his challenge however and started recognizing how the Lord had indeed blessed us with what we have and how He helped us get through each of these trials.
In D&C 59:21, the Lord taught “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.”
I certainly had not been confessing His hand in all aspects of my life. I was angry, holding grudges and I stopped serving others. Now that was a recipe for disaster.
Being able to feel gratitude for the things in your life is an enormous gift. This simple act of feeling grateful opens your heart up to so many other wonderful things that allow you to receive more blessings. Gratitude is not just a feeling that comes and goes, it is a principle which, if we live by it, can change our lives dramatically.
President Monson said “We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.” 2
The sailing may not be smooth
We are not promised that because we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ, life is going to be smooth sailing with a strong wind always in our sails. In fact, President Uchtdorf said the following in the most recent general conference: “Sometimes it seems that our lives are more difficult because we are trying to live our faith.” It might feel like life can be unfairly burdensome to those who are really trying but we must remember that one day, we will receive the glorious blessings of eternity, of which we can’t even comprehend during our mortal sojourn. These experiences are perfecting us and making us fit for the kingdom little by little, moment by moment and day by day.
I have seen members of the church go through horrible trials with physical suffering beyond what I can comprehend and somehow, they radiate peace and thankfulness. We can be grateful for our trials and the things we pass through once we recognize the Lord’s purposes for us. I often think of Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s fight for life in his last years. President Boyd K. Packer said of him, “He endured with perfect patience the challenge of his last days.” How could he do that while suffering through such exhausting and debilitating treatments? President Packard answered that as well. “Both Neal and Colleen … know for certain that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, that He accomplished the Atonement, the Resurrection of all mankind.” 3 He knew for himself what the Savior had done for him personally and expressed gratitude for His Savior as he struggled in his final days.
May we live with an attitude of gratitude like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies who praised God even in the very act of perishing when the Lamanites came through with the sword. (Alma 24:23) We are God’s and He holds us close. Let us be grateful for all that He requires of us and for all that He blesses us with as He prepares us for eternity.
2 “The Divine Gift of Gratitude”, President Thomas S. Monson, General Conference October 2010
3 “Elder Neal Ash Maxwell: A Promise Fulfilled”, Ensign insert, September 2004