Published: Saturday, Nov. 18, 1989 (Church News)
To say thanks is such a simple thing, but, oh, the message that it conveys.
Thanks is an expression of gratitude, and gratitude is a mark of greatness. There never was a great person who did not express appreciation or give thanks.The scriptures teach us many unforgettable lessons of thanksgiving.
The Savior of mankind - the greatest of all - expressed His thanks on many occasions. A few such references in the New Testament include:
- When Jesus fed the multitude, He took seven loaves and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them. . . . (Mark 8:6.) (Italics added.)
- Jesus thanked His Father for revealing the gospel truths to the twelve disciples. (Matt. 11:25.)
- Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He "lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always. . . ." (John 11: 41-42.)
- When Jesus instituted the sacrament, He first offered thanks before passing the sacred emblems. "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them. . . . (Luke 22:19.) And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it." (Mark 14:23.)
We, too, must give thanks if we are to show our appreciation and gratitude to our Father in Heaven. At this time of the year when we pause in a national day of thanksgiving, it is an appropriate time to express our thanks and gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy. Indeed, they are bounteous, as we recognize the hand of the Lord in His goodness to us.
Even when we think life is difficult, sometimes to the point of being extremely heavy, there are still many blessings we can count, still many favors from God for which we can give thanks. President Ezra Taft Benson has said that, "Our prayers and the prayers of our children should ascend to heaven full of gratitude and love for the mercies of the Lord unto us." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 364.)
Our offerings of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father should be that which is crafted with our hearts. "Let thy heart be full of thanks unto God," Alma tells us in the Book of Mormon (See Alma 37:37.) Our expressions of thanks should be molded by our righteous desires and could well center on those things that are most important in our lives, two of which stand out very prominently:
- Our families. How grateful we should be for our children, and for our parents and ancestors, and for brothers and sisters. How thankful we should be for the love of families and for knowledge that all can be welded together in one eternal family if we righteously live those principles and ordinances that this great blessing is predicated upon.
- Our membership in the Church, and for opportunities to render meaningful and helpful service to others. It is through service that we express through our acts that we, indeed, are thankful to a loving Heavenly Father for the great blessings of the gospel. How grateful we should be for an abiding faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ and for the universality of His love shown through His infinite atonement.
The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith in March 1832, "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more." (D&C 78:19.)
When we give thanks to God, our lives are lifted, our burdens are made bearable, and our deeds are designed not for our own glory and honor, but the glory and honor of Him whose children we are.
We are the recipients of God's choicest blessings. No people on earth has had what we have. For that our hearts should be turned to God in gratitude and thanksgiving and not just during this special time of the year when families and friends gather to enjoy the bounties of the earth and the goodness of the Lord.
Each day of our lives should be a day of thanksgiving unto God. To show our appreciation and gratitude, can it be anything less?