Last Sunday, my husband Anthony pulled out this gem to share for our home church. He gave this talk in the Hauula 2nd Ward in 2012. I was shocked at how applicable it felt to our current coronavirus experience and asked Anthony if I could share it here.
During trying, crushing times, sometimes it’s hard to feel grateful for anything! Anthony’s thoughts were a reminder that the Lord feels that gratitude is possible and vital to our well-being, even during our most difficult times.
Getting That Half-Full Glass to Overflow With Grateful Abundance by Anthony Hargrove
Too often I hear people make snide remarks about this politician, that superintendent, boss, coworker, friend, family member, church leader, etc. We focus on how a particular president is ruining the economy or going to send our young out to war. I hear remarks that we’re killing the earth and others are standing on the corner proclaiming “The end is near!”
Many of these people when told they are pessimists retort back and say, “No, I am not! I’m a realist!” What they don’t understand is that optimists are “realists” as well, for each one of us are the ones who decide which aspects of life to focus on and those aspects of life that we focus on will become reality.
Now, I can be optimistic about some things, but often it has been hard for me to be an optimist in all things. So the question then is, “How do I become more optimistic in all things?” There is one key characteristic that can help bring out the optimist in each of us, and that is gratitude.
Increased Blessings Come From Being Grateful
Often the hardest times in life are those when life just gets hard and it seems that at every corner there is another trial or hardship that brings out the “Why me?”
In 1833, the Saints in Missouri were going through one of these times. The Lord revealed Doctrine and Covenants 98 to Joseph Smith during this time of extreme trial and hardship.
“Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;
Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.
Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:1-3).
This was just a reminder of another revelation given less than a year and a half previous to this time.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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. (Doctrine and Covenants 78:17-19).
Judging by this promise, the ever-so-common saying of “Is the glass half full or half empty?” no longer really applies because those who are not only optimistic but who are truly grateful to the Lord for their “half-full glass” will find that it actually isn’t half-full but brimming over with abundance, “even an hundredfold, yea, more.”
Gratitude Is a Commandment of God in All Ages
It is very important to be grateful. It’s so important that being grateful has been a commandment throughout all the ages and in all the world, from Adam even to our day. In Moses 5 we read of an instance where Adam and Eve praised God in gratitude even after getting turned out of the Garden of Eden.
And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters” (Moses 5:9-12).
In 2 Nephi 9 in a discourse given by Jacob, he reminds the people of Nephi of one of God’s commandments:
“Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice” (2 Nephi 9:52).
And again in our day, President James E. Faust adds to the many prophets before him with the following,
I desire to discuss gratitude as an expression of faith and as a saving principle. The Lord has said, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21). It is clear to me from this scripture that to “thank the Lord thy God in all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:7) is more than a social courtesy; it is a binding commandment. (James E. Faust, “Gratitude As a Saving Principle,” Ensign, Dec 1996, 2)
How Do We Show That We’re Grateful?
Knowing that we need to thank the Lord, we then must do so, but how? King Benjamin in Mosiah 2 teaches that service to our fellowman is one way that we may show thankfulness to our Father in Heaven:
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?
And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King! (Mosiah 2:17-19)
In his fireside on “The Six B’s,” President Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged us to express gratitude to all of those around us. In a similar way to serving others as a way to serve our Father in Heaven, may I suggest that when we show thanks to our fellow beings, we are also showing thanks to our Father in Heaven.
Another example of showing gratitude to the Lord was demonstrated by the Brother of Jared when crossing the great deep to this continent amid very scary and precarious conditions:
“And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.
And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water” (Ether 6:6-10).
Hymns of Gratitude
We see that the Brother of Jared sang praises to the Lord and thanked Him all day and night. He was grateful! Today, we also have songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord as well as songs that encourage us to remember to be thankful. Since the time I joined the Church, I can remember hearing and replaying in my head “Count Your Blessings.”
There have been many turbulent times in my life that I’ve broken down with discouragement but during many of these times, the words of this song came as a comfort and encouragement, helping me realize that life really isn’t that bad and that I’ve been blessed and upheld through worse situations.
1.When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.
4. So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
I know that God lives and loves each and every one of us and that He knows us personally. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, lives and is our Savior. I am very grateful for His sacrifice, for the Atonement that provides a way to go back into God’s presence and helps us overcome the trials and hardships in our lives. I know that as we truly thank the Lord and show Him that we are grateful for all that He does for us, He will bless us with continued and multiplied blessings.
Father, may my heart overflow “in much gratitude to” You (2 Cor 9:12). May I never fail to recognize Your love and mercy. Else, “let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you (Ps 137:1)!” Fill my heart with gratitude and thanksgiving and free me from pride, discontentment, and ingratitude. Help me to count my blessings with gratefulness and to give thanks in all circumstances.
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.