7. In Everything Give Thanks

“Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks” (D&C 98:1).

Overcoming Discouragement, Fear, and Anger

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope or expect. It is easy to feel overwhelmed at times by discouragement, fear, and anger. Satan uses such feelings as an opportunity to attack us and lead us to self-criticism and finding fault in others. The more we focus on negative emotions, the stronger they become, until they begin to dominate our thoughts, diminishing our ability to feel the Spirit and find happiness. The proverb “As [a person] thinketh in his [or her] heart, so is he [or she]” (Proverbs 23:7) applies both to negative thoughts and positive thoughts. One way to counter our negative emotions is to ponder and express gratitude for the many ways in which we are blessed.

  • How can we acknowledge our difficulties without becoming consumed by them?

Acknowledging the Hand of God in Our Lives

In the midst of affliction, it may be hard to see the good around us when we feel weighed down with so much pain and sorrow. However, we have many reasons to be grateful. To those who struggle to see God’s hand in their lives because of their challenges, President Henry B. Eyring gave this counsel: “The key . . . is receiving the Holy Ghost as a companion. It is the Holy Ghost who helps us see what God has done for us. It is the Holy Ghost who can help [us] see what God has done. . . . Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him” (“O Remember, Remember,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 68).

There are many tender mercies that enrich our lives and let us know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and is mindful of us in a very personal way. As we consistently take time each day to ponder and record the things for which we are grateful, the evidence of God’s hand in our lives becomes clearer. We appreciate more fully the many blessings that have come to us in the past. We also watch for, recognize, and rejoice in the blessings that come each day. Elder Gerald N. Lund taught: “Sometimes . . . blessings come in such an unusual manner and with such precise timing that they accomplish something in addition to blessing us. They so clearly confirm the reality of God’s existence that they buoy us up in times of trials” (Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God [2010], 28). In our journey of healing, gratitude changes our hearts and helps us experience joy through the goodness of God and the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.

  • How has being mindful of your blessings helped you see the hand of God in your life?

  • What else helps you recognize the hand of God in your life?

Recognizing Our Own Gifts and Talents

As children of God, we have been blessed with many spiritual gifts. “For there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:11–12). It is important for us to recognize and be grateful for the gifts each of us has been blessed with. As we pursue the development of our talents and gifts, it can bring satisfaction, growth, and positive change in our own lives. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us” (“Happiness, Your Heritage,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 119). It may take time and effort for us to discover and further develop the gifts we have received, but all of us have much to contribute through our God-given abilities.

  • What are some of your gifts and talents? What can you do to further develop these gifts and talents?

  • How does your patriarchal blessing help you identify your individual gifts and talents? 

Finding the Good That Exists in Our Loved Ones

In addition to recognizing and being grateful for our own gifts, it is essential that we recognize the divinity within others, especially our family members. In our relationships, the things we focus on largely determine how we feel about a person. It may be difficult to imagine now what our loved ones would be like without their sins. However, an important part of our own healing process is to look past their poor choices to who they really are: beloved sons and daughters of God. Despite the difficult situations we are in, we can make the choice to be grateful for the good characteristics and deeds of our loved ones. If we make an effort to listen and observe with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we can see the divine potential in everyone, even those who have hurt us. Our relationships may improve and our loved ones may experience greater hope as we make the choice to recognize and be grateful for the goodness we see in others. 

  • What helps you see the good in your loved one?

  • What difference does looking for the good make in your relationships?

Expressing Gratitude for the Savior and His Atonement

Above all things, we are grateful for the Savior and His Atonement. He has been by our side, walking with us through good and bad times. Every good thing in our lives is a blessing from the Savior. In the words of Isaiah, “God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). As we ponder the many blessings we have, our gratitude may become like Ammon’s: “Behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold . . . [I] will praise his name forever” (Alma 26:11–12). Our gratitude for the Savior inspires us to be a little better, love a little more, and become more like Christ.

  • How do you feel about the Savior? How has His Atonement blessed you?

  • How can you show your gratitude to Him?

Gospel Study

As you study the resources listed below, prayerfully consider how you can apply the principles they teach. 

Doctrine and Covenants 59:7, 21 (We are commanded to thank the Lord in all things.)

Doctrine and Covenants 78:19 (We are blessed as we receive all things with thankfulness.)

Moses 5:10–12 (Adam and Eve responded to their challenges with thankfulness.)

Henry B. Eyring, “O Remember, Remember,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 66–69

Thomas S. Monson, “The Divine Gift of Gratitude,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 87–90

Bonnie D. Parkin, “Gratitude: A Path to Happiness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 34–36

Richard G. Scott, “How to Live Well amid Increasing Evil,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 100–102

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Grateful in Any Circumstances,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 70, 75–77

Videos: “Thanksgiving Daily,” “In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Personal Learning and Application

The following activities are to enhance your learning and application of these principles. Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these activities will provide you with new insights.

  • Study and ponder President Henry B. Eyring’s talk “O Remember, Remember,” and look for ways to recognize God’s hand in your life. Each day, ponder the question “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us, our children, or our family today?” and record your thoughts.

  • Think of a trial or difficulty you are currently experiencing. Study and ponder the picture of Adam and Eve in the Gospel Art Book ([2009], no. 5) and read Moses 5:10–12. What impresses you about their reaction to adversity? What do you learn from their example?

  • Watch the videos “Thanksgiving Daily“ and “In the Spirit of Thanksgiving,” and consider what they teach about gratitude. Read this statement from President Thomas S. Monson: “To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven” (“The Divine Gift of Gratitude,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 90). How can you show increased gratitude?

  • Why it is important to show gratitude? What blessings come from feeling and expressing gratitude? Read and ponder Doctrine and Covenants 78:19. Read the story of the “blessing basket” from Sister Bonnie D. Parkin in “Gratitude: A Path to Happiness,” and write down the blessings for which you are thankful. Share your feelings about this experience with a friend or loved one.

  • Study and ponder Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk “How to Live Well amid Increasing Evil,” and look for patterns he suggests to live more hopefully and to look for the good in a world filled with evil. How can you use what you have learned to help you appreciate more fully the good in your life?

  • Study and ponder your patriarchal blessing, and look for specific gifts and talents Heavenly Father has given you. If you have not received your patriarchal blessing yet, consider counseling with your bishop about and preparing to receive it.

  • Consider the principles found in these hymns: “Count Your Blessings“ (Hymns, no. 241); “Come, Come, Ye Saints“ (Hymns, no. 30); “Now Thank We All Our God“ (Hymns, no. 95); “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul“ (Hymns, no. 112); “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymns, no. 219).