Thanksgiving Day is here once again, and our nation pauses to observe the day. Thanksgiving means different things to different people. For some, it is a day for feasting. For others, it is a day for football. For others, it is a day for family and friends to gather. For all of us, it should be a day for giving thanks for our many blessings.
The scriptures give many examples of people giving thanks. When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, one of the first things they did was to build an altar and give thanks to the Lord. When the Jaredites spent nearly a year in closed barges traveling to the Promised Land, one of the first things they did was to give thanks.
The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ teaches the importance of giving thanks in many areas. During the days of King Mosiah the people who believed in God were persecuted by those who did not believe, and they were “suffering all manner of afflictions.” In these dire circumstances, the Lord commanded them to “pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things” (Mosiah 26:38-39).
This is not the only instance when the God commanded His children to give thanks for there are many instances in the scriptures
[1 Thessalonians 5:18; Alma 37:37; Doctrine and Covenants 78:19 are just a few of the references.]
No matter what is happening in our lives, we have much to be thankful for. All of us have air to breathe and most of us have water to drink. We have pure air and clean water, we are truly blessed. We all have this beautiful world for our earthly home. We also have our knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation with its commandments and ordinances. We have the centerpiece of the plan of salvation, which is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Through His atoning sacrifice, our Savior made it possible for all of us to return to the presence of our loving Heavenly Father.
Each November I see many posts on Facebook from friends and family members identifying some of their blessings and giving thanks for them. This is one way to give thanks, but does it show true gratitude? I remember when my youngest daughter was a young child and the lesson she taught me about being grateful. We went to the store to purpose groceries, and she found something that she wanted. I gave in and bought it for her. I cannot remember what the item was, but I hope I always remember the gratitude she showed for the small item. She told me thank you several times on the day of the purchase, but she came back the next day and thanked me again. Then the next day, she thanked me again.
I think this is how our Heavenly Father desires us to show our gratitude. We should not say a simple thank you when we receive the blessing, but we should go back numerous times to express our gratitude again. Of course, we should also show our gratitude in our behavior.
A number of years ago while out hunting with my husband, I had the responsibility of moving the truck from Point A to Point B. I made a wrong turn and had to turn the large vehicle around on a dirt road high above a reservoir. I was very frightened but completed the task successfully; however, every time I think of the experience, I express gratitude once again for the blessing of safety I received.
A couple of nights ago while chopping vegetables, I chopped my thumb. The cut was not very large or very deep – but it could have been much worse. I immediately thanked God for blessing me for not chopping off my thumb. I have returned numerous times over the past couple of days to express my gratitude once again.
We live in a world where people believe they are entitled to have whatever they desire. It does not seem to matter to them who owns the item or how they get it. They believe they deserve it – for whatever reason. How refreshing it is to see people who are truly grateful for whatever they receive.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about being giving thanks in all things. He shared severe examples from the pioneers and then said, “Like the pioneers, we should thank God for our adversities and pray for guidance in meeting them. Through that attitude and through our faith and obedience, we will realize the promises God has given us. It is all part of the plan.
“… Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality….
“When we give thanks in all things, we see hardships and adversities in the context of the purpose of life. We are sent here to be tested. There must be opposition in all things. We are meant to learn and grow through that opposition, through meeting our challenges, and through teaching others to do the same….
“… I rejoice in the Lord’s plan, in which the adversity of the deaths of many righteous individuals [during war] is turned into the blessing of righteous messengers to preach the gospel to their countless comrades-in-arms.
“When we understand this principle, that God offers us opportunities for blessings and blesses us through our own adversities and the adversities of others, we can understand why He has commanded us again and again to `thank the Lord they God in all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 59:7.)….”