Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Gift of Gratitude

I have noticed a number of my friends posting each day this month something for which they are grateful in their status. I think that is a wonderful way to start each day and I hope that once Thanksgiving is over, they will continue to give thanks each day.

In the October General Conference of the LDS Church, President Monson addressed the saints under the title "The Divine Gift of Gratitude." I wonder how many people consider gratitude a gift, much less one that is divine. Gratitude is generally thought of as a verb. An action we engage in to express in either words or actions our thanks for the actions, words, or gifts of another. However, when thought of as a noun, gratitude becomes a gift to us from God. President Monson expounded on this idea in his address and as I read over it earlier this week, I was struck by a couple of thoughts.

1. The story of the ten lepers. Those familiar with this biblical story remember that when Christ was on the earth, he was approached by ten men afflicted with leprosy. With no pomp or circumstance, he sent them to the priests upon which journey they were cleansed. Of the ten, only one, when recognizing the miracle, turned back and expressed his gratitude. Now, not much is told about what followed. We know that Christ questioned the whereabouts of the other nine. And the one who returned was told to go his way, that he was whole. I do not assume that the other nine were once again stricken with leprosy because of their ingratitude. Likewise, I do not believe that when we are remiss in expressing our gratitude for blessings received that those blessings will be revoked. However, I do think that the nine missed out on the additional blessing of the Lord as given to the one who returned. He was claimed to be whole. And I do believe that there is a difference between having the physical ailment cleansed and becoming whole.

2. The story of Christ feeding the multitude with only a few fishes and loaves of bread. Another familiar story from Christ's time on earth. Having spent three days preaching the gospel, Jesus and his disciples found themselves with a multitude of about 4000 people. I can only imagine the spirit that attended these people as they ignored the comforts of life to be in Christ's presence. And this story exemplifies Christ's love for his followers as he realized that they must be hungry. He turned the task of feeding the multitude to his disciples who were able to come up with a limited amount of food. And even knowing who Christ was, they questioned how such a little amount of food could possibly meet the needs of all in attendance. I love President Monson's observation, "Like many of us, the disciples saw only what was lacking." What follows is the point of gratitude. Christ had the disciples bring the bread and fishes and gave thanks then broke them and had the disciples disperse them to the multitude. Before performing the miracle, Christ first expressed gratitude for what He did have. That expression of gratitude was paramount to the working of the miracle.

Expressing gratitude changes our perspective, opens the windows of heaven to allow more blessings into our lives, works miracles in our behalf, and makes us whole. A grateful heart is a humble heart as we recognize that all we have is because of the blessings extended us by a loving Heavenly Father. Although tomorrow is the day set aside for thanksgiving in this country, do not relegate all your thanks to this one day. Make each day a day of thanksgiving and accept the gift of gratitude as a divine blessing from above.

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