Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Thanks

I'll begin with a lengthy quote:
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

"Know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

"But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States , and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
~ Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

Wow. I think this is very apropos for these times. (Of course, no public official, let alone the President of the United States, could get away with saying something like this today. Far too spiritual for the taste of the vocal minority.)

Lincoln provided what I believe is an inspired exhortation regarding what is known as the
"Nephite pride cycle," (humility -> obedience -> prosperity -> pride -> downfall -> humility -> obedience -> prosperity -> pride etc.). Contemplating such an announcement being said in today's political climate, I am reminded that the guilty taketh the truth to be hard - that is, it would not go over well.

But Lincoln's admonishment is as true today as it was then - we need to stop and give thanks to God for our many, many blessings - and not just in late November, but DAILY.

Prophets throughout history have warned that prosperity can be a great test - that it can cause people to forget God, who has given them all they have. President Brigham Young said:

“The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich [and] forget God. … This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth.”

I'd also like to point out that in the scriptures it says:

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 really important to give thanks to God. Let us remember God, thank Him, and show our gratitude by keeping His commandments and sharing of our abundance with others.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the most recent General Conference:
"Let me recommend that periodically you and I offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude. Ask for nothing; simply let our souls rejoice and strive to communicate appreciation with all the energy of our hearts."
I am so thankful for my wife and son, for the rest of my family and extended family, for a home and a job and food and clothing and cars that run.

I am thankful for having the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the Holy Temple, for being sealed to my family forever, and for holding the priesthood of God.

I am thankful for the scriptures, for a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, for good leaders in the Church, for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I am thankful for the Ensign magazine, for good books, and beautiful music.

I am thankful for the mountains and all the beauty of the Earth.

I am thankful for my talents, for a healthy body and mind, and for the many opportunities that I have.

I am thankful to live in this great land, the United States of America, and to be alive at this great time in history.

I am thankful for good friends, for my safety, for my faith and knowledge of the glorious eternal future, and for a million other things.

And I owe them all, and so much more, to God.

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