This morning we had two excellent talks in sacrament on prophets, especially the blessing of having a living prophet on earth in these latter days. Knowing there is a prophet who has direct revelation from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is such a blessing in our lives.
Last week during our church general conference we had the opportunity to listen to the prophet, Thomas S. Monson on the BYU television channel. In his Sunday morning talk he spoke about the Divine Gift of Gratitude. Using Luke chapter 17, he reminded us of what gratitude is and is not.
“And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
“And as he entered into a certain village, there [he met] ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
“And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
“And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
“And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”2
He went on to say, "Through divine intervention those who were lepers were spared from a cruel, lingering death and given a new lease on life. The expressed gratitude by one merited the Master’s blessing; the ingratitude shown by the nine, His disappointment.
"My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive? Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love."
We live in a country of plenty, a country that meets our every need. Another story our prophet told was "an account of one family which was able to find blessings in the midst of serious challenges. This is an account I read many years ago and have kept because of the message it conveys. It was written by Gordon Green and appeared in an American magazine over 50 years ago.
"Gordon tells how he grew up on a farm in Canada, where he and his siblings had to hurry home from school while the other children played ball and went swimming. Their father, however, had the capacity to help them understand that their work amounted to something. This was especially true after harvest time when the family celebrated Thanksgiving, for on that day their father gave them a great gift. He took an inventory of everything they had.
"On Thanksgiving morning he would take them to the cellar with its barrels of apples, bins of beets, carrots packed in sand, and mountains of sacked potatoes as well as peas, corn, string beans, jellies, strawberries, and other preserves which filled their shelves. He had the children count everything carefully. Then they went out to the barn and figured how many tons of hay there were and how many bushels of grain in the granary. They counted the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and geese. Their father said he wanted to see how they stood, but they knew he really wanted them to realize on that feast day how richly God had blessed them and had smiled upon all their hours of work. Finally, when they sat down to the feast their mother had prepared, the blessings were something they felt.
"Gordon indicated, however, that the Thanksgiving he remembered most thankfully was the year they seemed to have nothing for which to be grateful.
"The year started off well: they had leftover hay, lots of seed, four litters of pigs, and their father had a little money set aside so that someday he could afford to buy a hay loader—a wonderful machine most farmers just dreamed of owning. It was also the year that electricity came to their town—although not to them because they couldn’t afford it.
"One night when Gordon’s mother was doing her big wash, his father stepped in and took his turn over the washboard and asked his wife to rest and do her knitting. He said, “You spend more time doing the wash than sleeping. Do you think we should break down and get electricity?” Although elated at the prospect, she shed a tear or two as she thought of the hay loader that wouldn’t be bought.
"So the electrical line went up their lane that year. Although it was nothing fancy, they acquired a washing machine that worked all day by itself and brilliant light bulbs that dangled from each ceiling. There were no more lamps to fill with oil, no more wicks to cut, no more sooty chimneys to wash. The lamps went quietly off to the attic.
"Then it was Thanksgiving again. Their mother said, “Maybe we’d better forget it this year. We haven’t even got a goose left.”
"On Thanksgiving morning, however, Gordon’s father showed up with a jackrabbit and asked his wife to cook it. Grudgingly she started the job, indicating it would take a long time to cook that tough old thing. When it was finally on the table with some of the turnips that had survived, the children refused to eat. Gordon’s mother cried, and then his father did a strange thing. He went up to the attic, got an oil lamp, took it back to the table, and lighted it. He told the children to turn out the electric lights. When there was only the lamp again, they could hardly believe that it had been that dark before. They wondered how they had ever seen anything without the bright lights made possible by electricity.
"The food was blessed, and everyone ate. When dinner was over, they all sat quietly. Wrote Gordon:
'In the humble dimness of the old lamp we were beginning to see clearly again. . . .
'It [was] a lovely meal. The jack rabbit tasted like turkey and the turnips were the mildest we could recall. . . .
' . . . [Our] home . . . , for all its want, was so rich [to] us.”13
President Monson reiterated, "My brothers and sisters, 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."
I know I don't express enough gratitude for all that is so precious in life. Our warm home, electricity 24 and 7, the ability to call our children and talk to them face to face on the computer or at any time and anywhere on the cell phone or just to climb on a plane without much hassle or drive a car across country to visit them. Wonderful friends who add joy to my life. My wonderful companion who has supply our home with so many wonderful not so necessary "things." Our young people who so willingly step to the plate without a draft to protect our country, often even giving life or limb to do so and their parents who are aware of the sacrifices these young people make each day.
Yes, I need to have an attitude of gratitude at all times.