On Giving Thanks

I guess our family is among a very small minority of Europeans, who celebrate thanksgiving. For my wife and me it was one of the things that we decided to bring back with us from our forays into the wider world. We both felt that it is a good thing to have something to remind you of thankfulness.

People who are thankful are usually happier. Psychologists may not be in agreement of the cause-and-effect relationship, but I am convinced by my own experience that it helps to think about what you’re grateful for. Like in pres. Eyring’s talk in the October 2007 General Conference he talked about recognizing the hand of God in our lives. He urged us to recognize and remember God’s kindness.

True, our lives do not always go the way we hope and plan for. But if we pay attention to what happens and what we learn and experience, we can see that God does give us the things that help us in the long run. An endured hardship can make us more empathetic towards others; we can truly “mourn with those that mourn” if we have tasted sorrow, for example. So even when we do have to pass through hard times, we can be grateful for the experience (remember the Lord’s words to Joseph in Liberty Jail).

I know that I can see the grace of God in the things I have endured. Physical pain and depression can be a tough thing to go through, but I have noticed that what counts most is to have an enduring peace in my heart.

So yes, at the risk of sounding cheesy, I’ll say it: I am overwhelmingly grateful for my Savior for being there for me when I had my darkest hours. Because I felt his love (and the love of my family, of course), I found new strength that helped me keep struggling when a big part of me wanted to give up. Now I’m doing better, and I’m grateful for that, too. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have the “perfect brightness of hope” that makes me not want to give in to apathy or bitterness when my own strength wanes.

Sometimes Thanksgiving is just a big meal with an excuse to overindulge. Sure, we need to let loose at times. We have tried to put “thanks” into it, too. So tonight we are having our full-time missionaries over and some friends, and in our too-small dining area we’ll enjoy good food, good company and a spirit of thankfulness. All of you who celebrate with us, I hope you’ll have a good one.

Is there an LDS angle to the holiday? I think of D&C 59:21, where the Lord says that we should confess his hand in everything. We are told in many instances to give thanks. I don’t know if I answered my question, but there is much we should be grateful for.

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