This article is a follow-up to “The Small Things Are Not Small.”
This article contains a list of things I’m thankful for not because of something that was taken from me, but because I have them at all. I was going to title it “All the Small Things,” but I included the six things in this gratitude list because of blessings we’ve had and extra good things the Lord has given us… So this one’s about being thankful for all the… things, period (see D&C 78:19).
1. The Reminder to Be Thankful in All Things
Even seemingly mundane things like eating, showering, shopping — heck, even paying bills or dealing with bad traffic! — can be an act of thankful worship to God for making those activities possible in the first place. It might seem kind of weird with something that feels so common, like taking a bite of a donut or putting the car in park, to think “Thank you, God, that I am able to do this; that Thou gave me the means to get this food and the body to eat it” or “I thank Thee that Thou blessed me with this car and inspired its inventors to include brakes and mechanisms that allow me to safely park and lock it so I have higher chances of it not being stolen, and have a ride back home to my family.”
Thoughts like this might seem to some like trying too hard, but isn’t that the point, to reach for God with such great force and constant effort that our faith and love for Him becomes so strong He cannot withhold His greatest blessings from us? The reminder to be thankful for everything in and of itself is a sign of His mercy to us.
2. The Still Small Voice
Today I was taught in a gentle way by Heavenly Father about an area I need to improve on. I was reading in Hearing the Voice of the Lord by Gerald Lund and on page 139, it says:
“…we must take care that we don’t assume that the more direct forms of revelation [visions, supernatural miracles] are of greater value and meaning to us. It is easy to almost covet the more dramatic forms of revelation, thinking that they validate our closeness to the Spirit and therefore our personal righteousness.”
This was a helpful reminder to me to not put more value on those more direct forms of revelation than the less direct forms. What God reveals to us is far more important than how He reveals it. My wife has had experiences with visions. I have not. She has physically seen what it’s like on the other side of the veil. I have not. But, nonetheless, the Lord has still used less direct means to reveal to my heart and mind some things about my future and my life that have been just as mind-blowing and spiritually transformative as what my wife has received, and I am truly thankful for His teaching me about those things.
3. The Lord’s Correction
Speaking of the correction I received from the Lord through that book, that’s something else I am thankful for: chastisement from Him.
“Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth . . .” (Hebrews 12:6)
“I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.” (Alma 39:7)
I’m reminded of a part from the movie Ratatouille in the conversation between Remy and his dad. Remy’s dad shows him the rat poison and the traps in the window of the store, and the conversation goes like this:
Dad: When all is said and done, we’re all we’ve got.
Remy: No. Dad, I don’t believe it. You’re telling me that the future is… Can only be more of this?
Dad: This is the way things are. You can’t change nature.
Remy: Change is nature, Dad. The part that we can influence. And it starts when we decide.
Change is most definitely an essential part of God’s plan and almost all of that change is going to mean repenting and fixing what the Lord tells us to fix, with Him helping us along that path. I am thankful for the things He tells me I need to improve in myself, because then I’m aware of how to become more like Him.
And I’m not just talking about the Standard Works.
“Whatsoever [the Lord’s servants] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 68:4)
According to this, anything the prophet, apostles, or members of the Seventy teach in general conference, as well as our patriarchal blessings, are also scripture! Drawing on the third point I just mentioned, I am especially thankful for something that the Lord used to correct me that actually came from my own patriarchal blessing.
I am thankful for the reminder He gave me recently to draw upon specific sources for spiritual strength in moments of difficulty. I hadn’t been doing it as well as I should have been, which explains a lot about a few problems that weren’t resolving the way I wanted. Now that He has so kindly reminded me of how I was falling short, I can remedy that problem and, thanks to that reminder from my blessing, I can do what I should be doing to qualify more for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
5. My Computer
The laptop I’m typing this article from was a gift from God. He used creative means over the months my wife has been in the hospital to give us the means to buy it, including one helpful friend who has been such a blessing to Lorraine and I for a long time now. When I look back on how many things the Lord engineered over the last few months to allow us to afford it at the perfect time (since our other one is on its last legs), it’s kind of mind-blowing! Also, I have felt since it came in the mail that this is also a means for me to finish making restitution to God for the times throughout my life that I spent waxing and waning in and out of an addiction that required access to the internet. This is a chance to make this blessing from God purely a tool for the Lord’s work.
6. My Health
I had a friend (a different one than in point five) who recently thought something I said in episode 40 of my podcast was kind of comical. The point I made was that I’m physically very low-maintenance, but the particular phrase she found funny was when I said I’m basically a complicated houseplant with emotions. I only need two good meals a day, four or five hours of sleep per night, and at least one hug, and I’m good to go — and that’s no matter how much physical labor I need to get done. God has blessed me with a high physical stamina. I’m stronger than I look, and I think the last time I got sick enough to be incapacitated for even one day was more than five years ago. I have even jokingly told people that if my wife and I could switch immune systems, she’d probably heal from everything naturally in a month. My health has truly been a huge blessing from the Lord.
7. Being Born in This Dispensation
When President Nelson said “Time is running out” in January, I’m sure there were varied reactions, from a mild “Oh, wow!” to great fear to utter joy and gratitude. Mine was the mostly the latter and the reason is because I know the closer we get to His coming, the more temporal and spiritual examples we will have to look to for what it means to truly be guided by the Holy Ghost constantly. I need that. It’s one of the reasons I asked my mom to buy me the book Hearing the Voice of the Lord by Gerald Lund for my birthday.
The counsel we get in the scriptures is 100% on point. I have found greater ability to recognize and follow the Spirit’s guidance better the more I am “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love,” etc. (see Mosiah 3:19)… And look at all the resources we have to help us with that! Another quote from Tad R. Callister tells us:
“The Lord must expect much more of us in gospel scholarship than he did of previous generations, because we have so much more at our disposal.”
Living in the time period we do has been a huge comfort to me in the last few years and I am so, so thankful to God that He let me live now!
Kevin Clayson had a lot to say about gratitude in episode 19 of my podcast, “Stepping Into Freedom,” and I have personally found that following the advice he gave really does work! Being thankful for absolutely everything really is worth it!
Paul served a mission in the then Canada Toronto West Mission and is currently in the process of moving to St. George after living for ten years with his late wife, Lorraine, in Hamilton Ontario before her passing this year. He loves missionary work, piano, blogging (you can find his personal blog here!), deep spiritual conversations with friends, and hosting his podcast, Stepping Into Freedom. He can solve a 5x5x5 Rubik's cube, and puts a lot of time into gospel scholarship.