Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Are You Thankful For?

The question I have for you today is this: What are you thankful for? In the news today, we see the stories of suffering and pain, of turmoil and death, of failed businesses in an ever seemingly corrupt world that is slowly degenerating into chaos. And, with school, work, and mounting bills to pay, where do we find peace in our lives?

As this holiday season comes around the corner, perhaps we find some of that peace, of hope and joy that can only come from something better than us. Perhaps it’s because we remember Christmases past, where we’ve had fun, where we’ve had our traditions each year that sears into our minds and hearts a feeling of security, because within that is a sense of constancy.

It’s that remembering, that foundation of good times past, that from time to time give us a better hope for the future. Because, when we remember what is good in our lives, then we are grateful, grateful for the things we have had and now have, and which we will have. It is a magical time of the year that allows us to forget our own problems, because we are remembering and focusing on something more.

What do we remember though? Do we remember (as my parents would say) the five stones that they got for presents, or the earrings that your husband bought for you? As we have often heard during this season, we are to especially remember the Savior, for His example and life of service and sacrifice. The purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of the Savior. But unfortunately, people quickly forget the true purpose of Christmas. People spend too much time celebrating ‘Claus’ instead of ‘Christ.’

The Savior should be the center of our everyday lives, but more especially at this time, because we are celebrating the birth of Him who gave us life. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have made a covenant that we “will always remember Him” (Moroni 4:3), “and keep His commandments”, that “we may always have His spirit to be with [us].” As we come to Church each week and partake of the Sacrament, we are supposed to reflect on our week, on our lives, and consciously renew the promises that we have made with Him.

The promise we make is “to always remember Him.” What are we consciously doing in our lives to show ourselves and others that we are remembering Him?

Gratitude comes in many forms, but they mostly come as gifts. The Savior’s gift to us is one of eternal life. So, what are we going to give the Lord to thank Him for that gift?

The golden rule is to “do unto others what you would have done unto yourself.” So, the Savior has given us that gift of eternal life. What do we want others to have and experience then? Joy through eternal life too right? We are so afraid to talk to people about this marvelous present we have received, while it is easy to us to show off those new earrings or shoes that we have been given! Why?

Yes, it is hard to do missionary work, it is hard for us to talk to our friends and family because we’ve already tried it, and we’ve been shut down and rejected again and again. But, here’s the thing. We might be rejected twenty or thirty times, but it only takes that one golden person or family to change that all. We need to believe that the next person whom we decide to share the gospel with is someone whom the Lord has prepared for us. If we will do so, if we will prayerfully counsel with the Lord, we will know who we must share this priceless message with.

We might not be the most eloquent or the most impressive people. But the Lord’s promise to us is that if we do what he asks, he will provide the way, show us the love, and extend His comforting hand. In John 16:33, the Savior says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” To his disciples before He ascends to His father, he states: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”(Matthew 28:20). As it states in the sacrament prayer, we [will] always have His Spirit to be with us”, if we will but remember Him and keep His commandments. With those promises in mind, let us be as Nephi of old, courageously stating that “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).

As the new year comes along, let us make a conscious effort to be better, to do better, to show gratitude to the Lord by truly remembering Him. Gratitude indeed does work both ways. We are grateful for what we have received by doing our best in all that we do, and Heavenly Father shows us His gratitude by showering us with blessings that can only come to those who are truly thankful. With all of us in mind, Doctrine & Covenants 62:6-7 reminds us of a promise that the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Behold, I, the Lord, have brought you together that the promise might be fulfilled, that the faithful among you should be preserved and rejoice together…. with a thankful heart in all things.”

It’s still an open-ended question that I’m asking. We are thankful for the Savior and His Atonement, but what else are we thankful for? There is so much to be thankful for. This season will give us that needed time to ponder.

These lyrics sung by Josh Groban touches much on the message I am trying to share today. It reads,

Some days we forget
To look around us
Some days we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

Look beyond ourselves
There's so much sorrow
It's way too late to say
I'll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
It's so long overdue
Even with our differences
There is a place we're all connected
Each of us can find each others' light
So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There's so much to be thankful for

So, take the time to reflect on this question for a little while this month. What are you thankful for? As Christmas rounds the corner, and we receive Christmas gifts from our loved ones, we’ll open them with surprise and joy, because those gifts remind us of the love that our families and friends have for us. But truly, after all the hustle and bustle of this season draws to a close, what will we truly be thankful for?

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