President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught: “Gratitude is of the very essence of worship. … When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 250).
Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.
For three days, more than 4,000 people had stayed in the wilderness with the Savior without eating, and Jesus did not want to send them away hungry. But even His disciples questioned, “Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?” (Matt. 15:33). Like many of us, the disciples saw only what was lacking. Nevertheless, Jesus gave thanks for what they did have (see Matt. 15:36), and a miracle followed: “They did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full” (Matt. 15:37).
We all face times when our focus is on what we lack. Maybe our time, means, patience, or even feelings of love do not measure up to our expectations. At such times, we would find it helpful to adopt President Brigham Young’s attitude and view our difficulties with a grateful heart: “There is not a single condition of life [or] one hour’s experience but what is beneficial to all those who make it their study, and aim to improve upon the experience they gain” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 179).
Miracles can happen in our lives as we look to God with a grateful heart. Understanding comes, and strength to endure grows.
One sister struggled with negative feelings after a divorce. She found it difficult not to dwell on what she no longer had. Her marriage had fallen apart—along with so many hopes and dreams. She would sit next to families at church and wonder what was wrong with her. During this difficult time, she remembered the counsel of her patriarchal blessing: “Sister, be grateful for all your blessings.” And so she sincerely tried to be.
Each day, as she paused to thank God for all He had given her, a healing took place in her soul. She was able to fight off feelings of bitterness and despair and felt an outpouring of God’s love. “Gratitude,” she says, “kept my heart soft.”
The Lord Jesus Christ revealed that we offend God by not confessing His hand in all things (see D&C 59:21). The phrase “All things” includes blessings great and small—of life, of health, of family and friends, of bounties rarely noticed but given to us freely. Certainly some of our greatest blessings are associated with the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We would find it edifying to reflect regularly on our blessings and offer up a prayer of gratitude—perhaps not asking for anything, just thanking our Heavenly Father for the multitude of gifts He has given us. Great are the promises to those who receive “all things with thankfulness” (D&C 78:19).