For the Strength of Youth – Gratitude and Service

Gratitude

He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious.

Doctrine and Covenants 78:19

The Lord wants you to have a spirit of gratitude in all you do and say. Live with a spirit of thanksgiving and you will have greater happiness and satisfaction in life. Even in your most difficult times, you can find much to be grateful for. Doing so will strengthen and bless you.

President Uchtdorf – Grateful in Any Circumstances

Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.

We can be grateful!

It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.

Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.

My dear brothers and sisters, the choice is ours. We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. Or we can choose to be like Nephi, whose grateful heart never faltered. When his brothers tied him up on the ship—which he had built to take them to the promised land—his ankles and wrists were so sore “they had swollen exceedingly,” and a violent storm threatened to swallow him up in the depths of the sea. “Nevertheless,” Nephi said, “I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.”4

We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.

We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?

Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.

This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.

Gratitude will turn your heart to the Lord and help you recognize His influence and blessings in your life.

True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will.

In any circumstance, our sense of gratitude is nourished by the many and sacred truths we do know: that our Father has given His children the great plan of happiness; that through the Atonement of His Son,Jesus Christ, we can live forever with our loved ones; that in the end, we will have glorious, perfect, and immortal bodies, unburdened by sickness or disability; and that our tears of sadness and loss will be replaced with an abundance of happiness and joy, “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.”10

How blessed we are if we recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life. Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.16

 In your prayers, pour out your heart to your Father in Heaven in thanks for the blessings you have received. Be specific in thanking Him for His goodness, for your family, for friends, for leaders and teachers, for the gospel, and for His Son, Jesus Christ.

Alma 37:37 reads, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night, lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”

You also express gratitude to the Lord by the way you live. When you keep His commandments and serve others, you show that you love Him and are grateful to Him.

President Monson offers this plea: “Let us follow Him. Let us emulate his example. Let us obey His word. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.”

Jesus himself said in John 14:21, “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.”

President Harold B. Lee: “Life is God’s gift to man. What we do with our life is our gift to God.”

Express your gratitude to others for the many ways they bless your life.

President Hinckley said, “There are two little words in the English language that perhaps mean more than all others. They are “thank you.”

President Monson counsels: “Think to thank. In these three words is the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, a formula for enduring friendship, and a pattern for personal happiness.”

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Additonal thoughts on gratitude

Sometimes we forget our blessings when we are envious of others’ successes and jealous of their relationships.

  1. The Other Prodigal – Jeffrey R Holland

This son is not so much angry that the other has come home as he is angry that his parents are so happy about it. Feeling unappreciated and perhaps more than a little self-pity, this dutiful son—and he is wonderfully dutiful—forgets for a moment that he has never had to know filth or despair, fear or self-loathing. He forgets for a moment that every calf on the ranch is already his and so are all the robes in the closet and every ring in the drawer. He forgets for a moment that his faithfulness has been and always will be rewarded.

As such he is like Tantalus of Greek mythology—he is up to his chin in water, but he remains thirsty nevertheless. One who has heretofore presumably been very happy with his life and content with his good fortune suddenly feels very unhappy simply because another has had some good fortune as well.

Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies. 3 It is Lucifer, our common enemy, whose cry down through the corridors of time is always and to everyone, “Give me thine honor.” 4

How does this happen, especially when we wish so much that it would not? I think one of the reasons is that every day we see allurements of one kind or another that tell us what we have is not enough. Someone or something is forever telling us we need to be more handsome or more wealthy, more applauded or more admired than we see ourselves as being. We are told we haven’t collected enough possessions or gone to enough fun places. We are bombarded with the message that on theworld’s scale of things we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. 6 Some days it is as if we have been locked in a cubicle of a great and spacious building where the only thing on the TV is a never-ending soap opera entitled Vain Imaginations. 7

One observer has written: “In a world that constantly compares people, ranking them as more or less intelligent, more or less attractive, more or less successful, it is not easy to really believe in a [divine] love that does not do the same. When I hear someone praised,” he says, “it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy; when I read about the goodness and kindness of other people, it is hard not to wonder whether I myself am as good and kind as they; and when I see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to special people, I cannot avoid asking myself why that didn’t happen to me.” 8 If left unresisted, we can see how this inclination so embellished by the world will ultimately bring a resentful, demeaning view of God and a terribly destructive view of ourselves. Most “thou shalt not” commandments are meant to keep us from hurting others, but I am convinced the commandment not to covet is meant to keep us from hurting ourselves.

How can we overcome such a tendency so common in almost everyone? For one thing, we can do as these two sons did and start making our way back to the Father. We should do so with as much haste and humility as we can summon. Along the way we can count our many blessings and we can applaud the accomplishments of others. Best of all, we can serve others, the finest exercise for the heart ever prescribed. But finally these will not be enough. When we are lost, we can “come to ourselves,” but we may not always be able to “find ourselves,” and, worlds without end, we cannot “save ourselves.” Only the Father and His Only Begotten Son can do that. Salvation is in Them only. So we pray that They will help us, that They will “come out” to meet and embrace us and bring us into the feast They have prepared.

Service

When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Mosiah 2:17

Service to others is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is willing to bear other people’s burdens and to comfort those who need comfort. Often Heavenly Father will meet the needs of others through you. There are many ways to serve others. Some of the most important service you can give will be within your own home. You can also serve in your Church assignments, school, and community. You can serve by doing temple and family history work. You can serve by sharing the gospel with others now and as a full-time missionary in the future. Often the most meaningful service is expressed through simple, everyday acts of kindness. Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost each day to know whom to serve and how to help meet their needs.

M Russell Ballard – Be Anxiously Engaged

That simple practice is: In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible.

President Thomas S. Monson has taught that in many instances Heavenly Father answers another person’s prayers through us—through you and me—through our kind words and deeds, through our simple acts of service and love.

And President Spencer W. Kimball said: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 82).

I know that if you do this—at home, at school, at work, and at church—the Spirit will guide you, and you will be able to discern those in need of a particular service that only you may be able to give. You will be prompted by the Spirit and magnificently motivated to help pollinate the world with the pure love of Christ and His gospel.

And remember, like the little honeybee’s one-twelfth teaspoon of honey provided to the hive, if we multiply our efforts by tens of thousands, even millions of prayerful efforts to share God’s love for His children through Christian service, there will be a compounding effect of good that will bring the Light of Christ to this ever-darkening world. Bound together, we will bring love and compassion to our own family and to the lonely, the poor, the broken, and to those of our Heavenly Father’s children who are searching for truth and peace.

 Follow the example of the Savior as you serve others. As you devote yourself to serving others, you will draw closer to Heavenly Father. Your heart will be filled with love. You will learn that service and sacrifice are ways to overcome selfishness. You will enjoy happiness that comes only from giving service to God and others. Your capacities will increase, and you will be an instrument in God’s hands to bless the lives of His children..

Rosemary Wixom

All of our feelings of inadequacy dissolve when we link arms and do the Lord’s work, serve him in his glory, and live as his disciples.

President Uchtdorf – You Are My Hands

As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart.

With this in mind, let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn. We are commanded “to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” 5

As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.

M Russell Ballard – Finding Joy through Loving Service

Through our heartfelt kindness and service, we can make friends with those whom we serve. From these friendships come better understanding of our devotion to the gospel and a desire to learn more about us.

And President Thomas S. Monson has counseled:

“The needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone.

“… Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives” (“What Have I Done for Someone Today?” Liahona andEnsign, Nov. 2009, 85).

President David O. McKay said: “Man’s greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others.” 6

 

Thank you for sharing!

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