Brothers, sisters, and friends, as the Apostle Paul counseled the Thessalonian Saints, “In every thing give thanks” (1 Thes. 5:18), today I would like to express my gratitude for some of the special blessings in my life.
I am very grateful to have been born and reared in a Christian family, where from the earliest years of my life I had the privilege of coming to know and appreciate the sacred scriptures of the Bible.
I am grateful to have been taught the principles of honesty, hard work, and thrift even more by the daily example of my parents and relatives than by their words and counsel.
In those now distant past days of my adolescence, I chose to pursue a career in the military. In the academy I was taught by my leaders and professors in the principles of discipline, obedience, and dedication. For that experience, my soul is also filled with gratitude.
When I was still young, at the time it occurred, I considered the unfortunate accident that prevented my continuing a military career to be a terrible impediment to the realization of my fondest dreams. However, today, at this point in my life when my brown hair has been substituted for white and now even threatens to abandon me entirely, I have come to recognize that accident as a blessing in disguise, destined to propel my life in other paths that have led to higher levels of understanding and self-realization. I am also grateful for this.
I am grateful as I contemplate the years that have passed and the happenings that have unfolded, measuring what the Lord has given me and considering the sure promises for a happier future—a future made even happier by the company of relatives and friends who have preceded me in passing to the other side of the veil. I am grateful for those loved ones with whom I still enjoy living every day—particularly the extraordinary woman that God allowed me to have as a wife in mortality and throughout eternity. Also, I am grateful for the wonderful children and grandchildren he sent to our home to be the joy of our life. As I contemplate all these blessings, gratitude is the predominant feeling that comes to my heart.
Because of these and many other blessings that I cannot describe adequately, when I received the invitation to speak during this conference, gratitude was the primary theme that first came to my mind.
I express appreciation to those who preserved the Bible for future generations, beginning with the faithful patriarchs of Israel and then passed on by those dedicated scholars who translated the prophets’ writings into Greek—the universal language of the time—and thus preserved for us that precious version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint. Later, there were the steadfast individuals who tirelessly worked to copy the scriptures during the Middle Ages and who patiently reproduced and defended them from the barbarians who invaded Europe. I also pay honor and praise to the courageous reformers of the sixteenth century who translated the scriptures into the language of the people and made them available for the general reading and edification of all the children of God.
I express appreciation to our Father in Heaven for Joseph Smith, that humble and faithful prophet through whom were revealed to this generation the spiritual experiences and the precious doctrinal teachings of the prophets who lived in this hemisphere and recorded their testimony of Jesus Christ in the scriptures which are today known as the Book of Mormon—the book that casts so much light on the obscure passages of the Bible, confirming the word of God and filling in that marvelous portion of the plan of salvation created by our Father in Heaven for the happiness of his children.
I also express appreciation for the good families—descendants of the pioneers who populated these desert valleys—rearing noble children, pure and dedicated, ready to accept mission calls and willing to leave their homes and go into the world sharing the precious truths of the restored gospel with unknown and sometimes hostile people. I express a special thanks to those whose children were called to our native land of Brazil and for all they did for the people generally and for my family particularly.
I am grateful to the Almighty for the privilege given to all of us to be born in this generation of immense challenges and bright hopes, of technological progress and magnificent scientific accomplishments. I am also thankful for being born in a free nation where the gospel message can be freely preached for the eternal happiness of all who will receive it.
I express gratitude for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—perfect in organization, incomparable in spiritual power, and unassailable in doctrine and practice. I am grateful that in the restored gospel, the truths of the universe are incorporated in such a way that all who embrace them are never forced to abandon any previously known truth, nor any comforting hope, nor any ennobling principle possessed before. To the contrary, these truths of the restored gospel only cause the light already had to shine with greater brilliance—any happiness and joy already experienced to be magnified, and inspired wisdom to be added to the knowledge already acquired. Thus, through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, an individual can be raised to the highest levels that the human mind and heart can envision.
I am grateful especially for the restoration of the priesthood, including the same sealing keys promised by Jesus Christ himself to his Apostles that permit loved ones in our day to be sealed as families forever. (See Matt. 16:19.)
The recognition of and gratitude for blessings received has been a message emphasized not only by the Apostles and prophets of ancient times, but also even in this time by these prophets who are present with us here in the Tabernacle today.
Considering again the admonition of the Apostle Paul, “In every thing give thanks” (1 Thes. 5:18), we should be grateful for the blessings which we seek and receive as well as for those blessings that come to us that are beyond our current capacity to comprehend. All is provided by God, who is just, loving, and perfect and will result for our good because “all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom. 8:28.)
May human pride and pretensions never arise in us to cause us to imagine in those moments of personal victory or accomplishment that it is by our own merit that we have achieved, but rather may we recognize the hand of God in all things because, as we read in modern scriptures, “In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” (D&C 59:21.) In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.