Sunday, September 17, 2017

Grateful in all things

Gratitude is a form of repentance.

I’ve learned a lot about gratitude the last 4 years.  The things that happened to us surrounding our mission and after coming home have been my continual teacher.  It all started on the mission when so many hard things were happening with our family that I couldn’t see blessings.  I started to pray hard that I could, “Please let me see the blessings.”  Over time I realized I wasn’t necessarily receiving the blessings I wanted, but I was still being blessed; Meghan and Mitch moved out of our basement, but we were able to rent the basement, Ryan had to quit his job to finish his last year of classes which was stressful with a wife and baby, but we were able to give him a job doing yard work with the money we got from rent, Nathan was nose diving and we had no idea why, but we found out it was drugs and got him into a treatment center, we had two boys fall away from the church, but Meghan and Marissa got pregnant and two beautiful baby girls joined our family, etc.

At this time as I tried to focus on the blessings, it was an exercise of my mind to express gratitude and not think of the hard thing that was causing pain or stress.  As I expressed gratitude for blessings I always felt like it was a conduit to heaven.  The minute I started to place myself in a state of thanks I would immediately feel instant heaven.  It taught me a lot.  I was amazed at what gratitude could do to help me feel instantly changed.

Coming home seemed to continue the pattern.  My mother passed away shortly after we got home, but I was able to care for her for 3 weeks, Don developed Parkinson’s, but he is still doing well, I wanted Don to get a normal job or a real estate project, didn’t happen, but we have experienced miracles where our finances are concerned, etc.  Again it was such an exercise of faith for me.  I was in a world of hurt but kept trying to look for the blessings and expressing thanks. 

I can relate to Moroni, when he is talking about Alma’s experience, when they were put under bondage in the wilderness.  Here Alma is going against king Noah and all the other wicked priests and following after Abinadi. He is trying to do what is right, he is sacrificing his safety and comfort to bring others closer to Christ.  You would think God would make it easy and they would be blessed.  But instead they are found and put in bondage. 

Moroni says in Mos 23: 21-23 about Alma’s situation; the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and faith…..yet-whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day….for they were brought into bondage and none could deliver them but the Lord….
It tells me that trials are a very specific tool used to help us see and know God.  Think about it.  If everything was easy in our lives, we would never feel the need for a Savior, the gospel, or the need to turn to our Heavenly Father in prayer.  Trials put us in a state of vulnerability which makes us a little more tender and open; seeking and searching for understanding, comfort and strength.  It drives us to our knees with more intention and purpose; seeking our Heavenly Fathers assistance.

Times like these give our God a chance to show himself.  We come to know God in our extremities.
In the next chapter Alma himself talks about what God promised them, “…….I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me here after, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”  He is saying, “You will have trials, and if you will stay with me through it, you’ll come out knowing me better and being able to witness of me.

It’s the same way with Ammon.  In Alma 26:35, Ammon is expressing his profound gratitude to God for all those trials and sacrifice they went through on their 15 year mission, “we have suffered all manner of afflictions that we might be the means of saving some souls….” 

Ammon says perfectly what happened to them because they stuck with God, had faith in Him through it all, and were able to see the blessings even though they suffered and everything didn’t make perfect sense; Alma 26:35, now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my god; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.

What I see in that verse is amazing.  They had these trials, they suffered, God saw fit to try their patience, and some of their people even died.  And because of it they came to know their God profoundly; intimately.  So much so that they described him as – “all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being even unto salvation……” but,

It takes humility and repentance to come to that kind of knowledge.

The very same sentence he adds, “….to those who will repent and believe on his name.”

I think it is hard to be humble.  That may just be me, but I think it's hard to be soft and open when your in the middle of trials!  But it is the answer that will solve problems, it brings the ability to hear the answers God is communicating and the willingness to believe and follow those answers.

This is the important part.  Repentance comes from the Greek words: meta=change of form, and noval=mind, knowledge, spirit, breath, (meaning life).    When we change our form to be in a state of gratitude we are actually repenting.  The natural man is never grateful!  The natural man is an enemy to God.  He can’t feel the spirit in his state of seeking the will of his flesh, his way and his expectations.

Gratitude as a state of repentance means change from the natural way.  It is not easy amidst pain, doubt, confusion, and hurt to repent! To be grateful!  Yet what God promises is that if we will be humble and repent he will show His power to us and we will come to know him.  This knowledge isn’t free.  There is a price to know God.

What I know is that this is true.  I have been hearing God say for years, “Hold on I’ll get you there.”
What I know now better, is that He is all power, all wisdom, all understanding and merciful.  He knows a lot more than I do.   And I also know he is very, very patient.  I’m sad he has had to exercise so much patience with me and it has taken me such a long time to stop asking why, and just decide it doesn’t matter.  Gratitude is the step that has gotten me through the pain to the other side. 

I choose faith and trust.  With all my heart I choose God.  When I feel a question forming, I just lay it aside and think, it doesn’t matter, I choose God, I want to live by faith and I don’t care about anything else. 

One more scripture that I feel is perfect when talking about gratitude is,  Alma 26, 29…..if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another--- I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another-I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

What I really feel is no matter how much confusion, darkness or trial there is in life, if we will be humble and create a grateful heart inside, we will be closer to heaven, see more clearly, recognize the miracles and realize we are unprofitable servants as we become more intimately acquainted with God.  Depending on what we go through it may take time to get here, but it's the best feeling in the world to be on the other side, back to simple faith.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to express this. I know just writing it was a victory for you!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thank you! Very moving words,and the whispers "Truth!"