Jesus Christ taught by example that a grateful heart is a heart close to God. Before raising Lazarus from the dead, he “lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). Before feeding more than 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few small fishes, he first “gave thanks” to God (see Matt. 15:36). While awaiting his crucifixion, Jesus took the cup at the last supper and again “gave thanks” to his Father, even though the drink represented the shedding of his own blood (see Matt. 26:27–28).
The Savior lamented ingratitude. When only one of the 10 cleansed lepers returned to give thanks, Jesus asked, “But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17). To us in the last days, he has said, “In nothing doth man offend God … save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21).
Just as a thankful heart compelled the leper to return, gratitude turns our own hearts toward the Savior. We grow when we acknowledge our dependence on him. We develop Christlike characteristics that offset tendencies toward pride, selfishness, and being unforgiving. By following the admonition to “thank the Lord thy God in all things” (D&C 59:7), we become aware of the ways that Heavenly Father influences us.
A young mother knelt beside her three-year-old and listened to his heartfelt bedtime prayer. As he gave thanks for his big brother, for snow, for clouds, and for pizza, she tried to remember the last time she had thanked the Lord for such things. She realized that, although she always thanked our Heavenly Father for health, family, and the gospel, she had forgotten to remember the plain, the ordinary, the simple blessings of her own life. When she began expressing daily gratitude for all these blessings, she saw the world with new eyes. She found that grief and hardship became easier to bear and that she was spiritually nourished (see Lisa Ray Turner, Ensign, July 1992, pages 51–52).
Elder Robert D. Hales counsels us, “Through expression of prayerful gratitude and thanksgiving, we show our dependence upon a higher source of wisdom and knowledge—God the Father and his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (Ensign, May 1992, page 64).
Thankfulness frequently expressed through prayer, testimony, conversation, and living the gospel reflects a spiritual maturity that exists “in people who are truly grateful. Thousands of Saints are leading a rich life, whether they are living in a mansion in Jakarta or in a home with a leaking roof. In that home with the leaking roof, a sister expressed gratitude [to our Father in Heaven] that two daughters had done extremely well in final tests … yet explained that sometimes she has to ‘wear an umbrella’ in the kitchen when it rains” (Elaine L. Jack, “Get a Life,” Brigham Young University 1992–93 Devotional and Fireside Speeches, pages 47–55).
“He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious” (D&C 78:19). With such a promise, one of our prayerful requests could appropriately be, “more gratitude give me.”
• What blessings are you grateful for?
• How can expressions of appreciation improve family relationships?