Count your blessings; name them one by one,
Count your blessings; see what God has done.
Count your blessings; name them one by one,
Count your many blessings; see what God has done.
While singing this chorus in Sacrament Meeting, my six year old nephew Brady leaned over to his dad and said, “I’m going to name mine Bob.”
When I heard the story I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so perfect. I could imagine his face about to deliver one of his all time greatest lines. “I’m going to name mine Bob.” Forever a family classic.
When my laughter finally subsided, I considered what he’d taught me. At the very least, he’d followed the song’s directive and named his blessings!
When I think about naming blessings, I think of ticking off items on some list or spreadsheet numbered down the side—the Savior and Atonement, my husband, my dog, Tex-Mex, life, et cetera. The more things I add to the list, the more self-satisfied I feel like I’ve hit an appropriate gratitude quotient or something. Listing XX items makes me YY grateful.
Now Thank We All Our God
“[Ye] are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in His own hands and prepared for you; And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.”
I get that I am seriously ignorant of Heavenly Father’s works and glory. Even in my most worshipful adoration, I can’t even grasp the enormity of Him.
It seems like the simplest commandment holds layer upon layer of instruction and knowledge. If God expects thankfulness from me, then He’s shown me the way.
To expand my mind’s eye, I checked out synonyms for thankfulness on thesaurus.com. Of course, gratitude is the obvious synonym. Reading the list of synonyms brought new thoughts. Here’s a few: awareness, perception, realization, knowledge, comprehension, responsiveness.
I felt so enthralled with synonyms I’d never really correlated specifically with thankfulness that I reviewed the antonyms: apathy, criticism, disapproval, disbelief, disdain, dishonor, disregard, disrespect, hate, ignorance, indifference, insensitivity, misinterpretation, misunderstanding.
A story sprang to mind. I suddenly saw Joseph as Pharaoh’s right-hand man in front of his 10 brothers. He knew them immediately. They did not see him – ie no awareness, perception, realization, knowledge, comprehension, or responsiveness. They talked with him (albeit through an interpreter) and bartered with him. They ate with him—according to their ages. And still, they did not see him. Why?
To them, he was dead. And despite the dreams that angered them, they couldn’t comprehend that Joseph would be a ruler over them. And so even if he seemed familiar—wouldn’t he have seemed familiar?!–they blinded themselves to the possibility. Maybe they were so beaten and battered with hunger and stress they couldn’t see beyond that basic need. Regardless, they didn’t see and therefore couldn’t truly be thankful.
Father, Thy Children to Thee Now Raise
So is thankfulness actually a commandment to know God completely?
During Moses’ call as a prophet, the Lord told Moses He would show him one thing. One thing!
“And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee. And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.
And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that His glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.
And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.”
Suddenly, Moses was aware, perceived, realized, comprehended, and responded to knowledge. He kept that awareness at the forefront of his mind as he recognized the lack of glory in Satan and as he returned to Egypt for the children of Israel. He stood before an earthly king in holy thankfulness to his heavenly King!
Thankfulness changed Moses forever. No more fleeing alone timeinto the desert. This newly uncovered Moses commanded plagues, opened the sea, and shepherded people without the same degree of thankfulness for 40 years.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Nephi sought awareness, perception, realization, knowledge, and comprehension after hearing his dad’s vision of the Tree of Life.
“And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek Him.”
He came to know God! After this, Nephi withstood a pole lashing, attempted murders, and the overall unthankfulness of his brothers (apathy, criticism, disapproval, disbelief, disdain, dishonor, disregard, disrespect, hate, ignorance, indifference, insensitivity, misinterpretation, misunderstanding.) He built a ship he’d never seen before. He led his followers to safety where they built a city and a temple.
My thoughts flowed to Nephi’s beautiful, real, emotional psalm in 2 Nephi 4. And in this context, I’m blown away by the way he counts his blessings, naming them one by one. Nephi truly sees what the Lord has done.
This isn’t all of it, but it’s still lengthy. Each word resonated on my heart and made my egotistically numbered gratitude list completely irrelevant.
“My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh. He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time. And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me. And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. … Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! …
O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.”
How Great Thou Art
After describing His glory, characteristics, and being in Doctrine and Covenants 93, the Lord simply said, “I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of His fullness.”
And that sentence, my friends, is now my new definition of thankfulness. It addresses everything–awareness, perception, realization, knowledge, comprehension, responsiveness.
Count your blessings; name them one by one.
Count your many blessings—see what God has planned for you!!
Then, God willing, we will join the throng to sing the new song of thanksgiving–
“[All] shall know Me, who remain…and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall life up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song, saying:
The Lord hath brought again Zion; The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel, According to the election of grace, Which was brought to pass by the faith And covenant of their fathers.
The Lord hath redeemed his people; And Satan is bound and time is no longer.The Lord hath gathered all things in one. The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.
The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength; And truth is established in her bowels; And the heavens have smiled upon her; And she is clothed with the glory of her God; For he stands in the midst of his people.
Glory, and honor, and power, and might, Be ascribed to our God; for he is full of mercy, Justice, grace and truth, and peace, Forever and ever, Amen.”
Come! Ye thankful people, come!
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.