In times of difficulty it is often hard to focus on the things for which we should be grateful. We tend to lament the things we don’t have rather than to be grateful for the things we do have.
On one occasion as I attempted to jam a shirt into an overfilled closet, I complained to my wife about how small our closets are. She quickly retorted, “Aren’t we blessed to have so many clothes!”
Being one of five boys in the family, it sometimes fell to me to help wash the dinner dishes. It was definitely not my favorite chore and on those occasions I lamented not having any sisters who, I believed, would have been more suited to the task. Kirsten Emmerton put dish washing in perspective when she wrote this little poem that appeared in a recent edition of Taste of Home Magazine:
“Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell. While other folks go hungry, we’re eating very well. With home and health and happiness, we shouldn’t want to fuss, for by this stack of evidence, God’s very good to us.”
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.”
“Regardless of our circumstances,” said Thomas S. Monson, “each of us has much for which to be grateful.” He went on to say that material possessions might make us happy and grateful momentarily, however, “those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some things we allow ourselves to take for granted.”
Sometimes we wait too long to express our gratitude to those we love and treasure the most. I wish I could speak into the ears of my parents words of gratitude for all they gave to me. I could have minimized my regret had I taken occasion to thank them more while they were yet alive.
Mr. Monson went on to say, “it is my prayer that in addition to all else for which we are grateful, may we ever reflect our gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to some of life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do our spirits go when we die? The gospel brings to those who live in darkness the light of divine truth.
“He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinners He saved. Ultimately, He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’
“Who was this ‘man of sorrows… acquainted with grief’? ‘Who is this King of Glory,’ this Lord of lords? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the author of Our Salvation. He beckons, ‘Follow me.’ He instructs, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’ He pleads, ‘Keep my commandments.’” (Ensign Magazine, November 2010)
By following Him we can to some small degree emulate His example in our individual lives. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.