Saturday, November 26, 2016

Gratitude in Every Thing

By Lacey Gunter

Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to contemplate gratitude, in general, not just the actual things we find easy to be grateful for. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18, "In every thing give thanks."  For most people, even in the midst of a difficult trial, it is fairly easy to come up with at least one thing they are grateful for, a loved one, a warm shower, sunlight, chocolate. There is usually plenty enough in our lives to find gratitude for at least one thing. But, what does it mean to give thanks in every thing?  Should we really be grateful for everything? For example, pain and suffering, what is so great about that? Why would God want me to be grateful for that?

Science teaches us that gratitude is a wise virtue to develop. More than just improving our emotional wellbeing, it can also improve our health. And that is great. But, honestly, one can "be grateful" most of the time by simply focusing on the things in our life that are easy for us to be grateful for.  I believe this scripture is asking us to dig a little deeper than that.

How do we become grateful in every thing?  I don't have a really great answer to this question and I can easily confess that I am not informed enough to know God's thoughts or ways. But for me, this kind of gratitude requires way more than just an "attitude of gratitude."  This kind of gratitude requires a desire for knowledge and understanding, coupled with a lot of pondering and introspection.

Probably one of the biggest causes of pain and suffering in this world is the selfish or poorly thought out actions taken by others. On the surface and even at a moderately deep level, it can be really difficult to find gratitude for these things. How do we find gratitude for other's painful mistakes? One way I am trying to do this is through pondering the plan of salvation and considering what those mistakes really are.

Mistakes or bad decisions and actions are often born out of choice. So, suffering from someone else's choices means we possess the true power or ability to make choices. This is certainly something to warrant a hefty amount of gratitude.

It is also through choice and its consequences that we learn and grow. Without the consequences we face from other people's actions, neither we nor the person who made the choice would be able to learn how to act better and be better. This I can feel honest gratitude for.

What sticks out to me the most, though, in pondering about the directive to give thanks in every thing, is understanding how our suffering is the path through which we are able to truly feel the joy the atonement can bring to our lives. We cannot fully understand the power and magnitude of the atonement until we have felt a small inkling of what it actually paid for. We cannot recognize what the Savior did for us individually unless we personally experience some of the pain and suffering our actions cause. And without this, how could we possibly feel the joy of repentance and knowing we have been cleansed and sanctified with the Lord. That joy, through first experiencing suffering, is beyond what I am able to express gratitude for.

These are some of the things I have begun to try to recognize and acknowledge in my life. How have you tried to develop the ability to give thanks in every thing in your life?  I would love to hear other people's insights that we all might uplift each other and be grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this reminder, Lacey. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. You are thoughtful in all you do.



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