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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Choosing Gratitude

I've been thinking a lot about the beautiful and freeing principle of gratitude. In D&C 59:7 it says, " Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things."  And  D&C 98:1 we are counseled, "Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks."

What does it look like to give thanks in everything and how do we find this perspective during those moments in life that are unpleasant, inconvenient, ugly, or painful?

I believe it is a principle of agency.  We choose to see the good to focus on the blessings.  I love the example of Job in the Old testament. I don't know of any person in the scriptures besides Jesus Christ who was given more hardships than Job was.  Even with all the trials Joseph Smith went through, the Lord said to him "Thou art not yet as Job."

Job's perspective was this: "Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." - Job 1:21

Basically, Job's view on his life was that all of it was a gift from God, every last bit of it "the good, the bad, the ugly."  He understood that he was born into the world completely empty-handed and that anything tangibly given unto him would eventually be taken away through the portal of death.  "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."- Job 1:22

In our family scripture study we just read about the people of Alma who lived for a time under the persecution of Amulon and the Lamanites.  They were chastened.  Their patience and faith was tried. ( Mosiah 23:21) But they trusted in God and continued to cry out to him in prayer, which practice deepened their faith even more. (Mosiah 23:22&23, 27&28)

What I find interesting is that their burdens were not removed for quite some time but that they were only "eased."  Even though the struggle and weight of trial remained, the Lord strengthened their ability to carry it all.  And they did so "cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." - Mosiah 24: 13-15  Eventually they escaped their enemies and looking back they acknowledged the hand of God with the heartfelt praise, just as Job did.

"They poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens, and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God.
 And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God."

This is faith:  Knowing that even in the moment where we can't see the end from the beginning, where we can't see the reason for certain trials, it won't really matter when we leave this life.  What will matter is "Did we trust God?" Did we trust that no matter what our struggles were we continued to do good and choose gratitude.   The Good Shepherd KNOWS us!

We continue on this journey with peace and hope in our hearts, "fearing not to do good... for whatsoever [we] sow, that shall [we] also reap; therefore, if [we] sow good ye shall also reap good for [our] reward.

The Savior calls,  "Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail."   - D&C 6:33-34

- Alicia :)

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