LDS Business College Devotional
November 22, 2011
just a few days we will celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. Early settlers from Europe brought with them harvest celebrations and added them to similar Native
American traditions to create what we now call “Thanksgiving.” It is a holiday primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada(though on different days in each country), but it is also observed in the Netherlands, Liberia,
Norfolk Island in Australia,
and Puerto Rico. Although you might be familiar with the traditional Pilgrim origins of Thanksgiving, some scholars actually believe
that Spanish explorers in Florida
celebrated the first Thanksgiving in the “new world” in 1565.1
Although traditional meals and activities like football may be the first things people remember about this holiday,
Thanksgiving and all it precursors were based on the principle of gratitude. Whether it was being grateful for a harvest,for the end of a war, for the relief of a city under siege, a safe journey, or
for freedom, the underlying purpose was an expression of thankfulness.
I would like to share
with you during the next few minutes a few thoughts on the principle of
gratitude. Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness, an attitude of appreciation, and a gift we choose to give not
only to others but to ourselves. It is the habit of focusing on the blessings of life rather than on its misfortunes.
One of the most
poignant stories regarding gratitude in the New Testament is found in the Book
of Luke. Ten men who were lepers stood
afar off and called to Jesus when he entered into their village. They had been shunned and cast away because
of their disease. They could no longer mingle with family and friends, or pursue normal work or religious worship
services with others. People avoided
them and they were among the most marginalized members of society. They begged Jesus to “have mercy on us.”
Christ did have mercy
and he healed them, telling them to go show themselves to the priests so that
they could be officially pronounced clean and able to return to home, family,
work, and church activity. Luke records,“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud
voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at [Jesus’] feet, giving him
thanks, and he was a Samaritan. And
Jesus answering said, were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give
glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” 2
The gratitude of the
one is made more obvious in comparison to the ingratitude shown by the other
nine. Note that this one grateful man, a Samaritan – and you all remember that the Jews of the New Testament looked down
upon the Samaritans as being less worthy and faithful -- was the only one who
returned to praise Jesus.
The Lord told the
Prophet Joseph Smith, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things…and in
nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those
who confess not his hand in all things.” 3
President Monson said,
“If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its
place among the noblest of virtues.”4
Alma taught that we should “live in thanksgiving daily.” 5
The early Saints were
told that “he who receives all things with thankfulness shall be made
I learned years ago
that many times the Lord often asks us to do things that we easily see as being
beneficial to others. We are commanded
to pay tithing, and we can see how that blesses the Church. We are asked to teach Sunday School, and we
can see that the students will be helped by our effort. We are asked to forgive, and we can see that
forgiveness is a wonderful gift to those who have hurt or offended us. But I have also learned that blessings to others are secondary and small when compared to the blessings that come to us
in following God’s counsel. We are blessed with the opening of the windows of heaven when we pay tithing; with an
increased knowledge of the doctrines of salvation when we teach; and with
freedom from the burden of constantly contemplating how we have been wronged
and thinking about how unjust life is.
Being grateful blesses
us even more than it blesses those who receive our thanks. President 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
Elder Haight taught
that “as gratitude is magnified and developed and expanded, it can bless our
hearts and our minds and our souls to where we’d like to continue to carry on and
do those things that we are asked to do.” 8
President Joseph F. Smith said that “The grateful man sees so much in the world to be
thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life.” 9
Brother Vaughn Worthen, who worked in the Counseling and Career Center
at BYU, noted that “cultivating and practicing gratitude can reduce symptoms in
cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Practicing gratitude can also lead to increases in optimism, vitality, happiness, a sense of well-being, and a greater
satisfaction with life.” He noted that “gratitude” interventions promote well-being and bring a more
positive focus to troubled relationships. 10
then, is a great antidote for many of the struggles that we experience. It offers hope and allows us to escape many
of the fears that bind us down.Cultivating and expressing gratitude can help us – regardless of our
circumstances – feel closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus
Christ. Cultivating and expressing
gratitude can lead to a happier and fuller life. President Monson said, “We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought
and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.” 11
Louisa Mellor Clark came to Utah
with the Martin Handcart Company. Her
mother had become discouraged and finally told the others she could go no farther. As the company moved on, Louisa stayed with
her mother. She went a few yards away
and prayed that God would help them and protect them. As she walked back to where her mother was
sitting on a boulder, she found a pie in the road. She wrote in her journal, “I picked it up and
gave it to mother to eat. After resting
awhile we started on our journey, thanking God for the blessings. A few miles before we reached camp we met my
father coming out to meet us. Many times after that mother felt like giving up and quitting, but then she would remember
how wonderful the Lord had been to spare her so many times, and offered a
prayer of gratitude instead. So, she went on her way rejoicing while walking the blood-stained path of snow.”12
Being thankful in all things13 often brings unanticipated benefits even in
the worst of circumstances. Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were devout Christians who were sent to a
concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home during World War II. Their story is found in a book called The Hiding Place. Upon arrival at Ravensbruck the two sisters
were assigned to Barracks 28. Corrie tells the story this way.
and I followed a prisoner-guide through the door at the right. Because of the broken windows, the vast room
was in semi-twilight. Our noses told us,first, that the place was filthy: somewhere, plumbing had backed up, the
bedding was soiled and rancid.
“Then as our eyes adjusted to the gloom we saw that there were no individual beds at
all but great square tiers stacked three high, and wedged side by side and end
to end with only an occasional narrow aisle slicing through.
“We followed our guide single file—the aisle was not wide enough for two—fighting
back the claustrophobia of those platforms rising everywhere above us…At last
she pointed to a second tier in the center of a large block.
“To reach it, we had to stand on the bottom level, haul ourselves up, and then
crawl across three other straw-covered platforms to reach the one that we would
“The deck above us was too close to let us sit
up. We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw…Suddenly I sat up, striking my
head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
I cried. ‘Betsie, the place in swarming
with them! … how can we live in such a place?’
us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying….
she said excitedly, ‘He’s given us the answer!
Before we asked, as He always does!
In the Bible this morning. Where
was it? Read that part again!’
“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then I drew
the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in
First Thessalonians,’ I said. In the
feeble light I turned the pages, ‘Here it is:
“Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil,but always seek to do good to one another and to all.’”
on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’
“’Oh yes’ I said,”…Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all
circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”
it, Corrie! That’s His answer. That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every
single thing about this new barracks!’ Istared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“’Such as?’ I said.
“’Such as being assigned here together…. such as what you are holding in your hand….
for the very crowding in here. Since we are packed so close, then many more will hear the message [in the Bible].”
“’Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, for the fleas and for….’
fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie,’ I said, “there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’
thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted.
It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.
so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
and Corrie began to have worship services.
Other women gathered with them to read the Bible and to pray. They even had to hold two worship services
per evening to accommodate everyone who was interested. While the guards kept them under rigid surveillance in all their activities, including the center room of the
barracks, there was no supervision in their bunk area. And one day Betsie learned why. Some prisoners were knitting socks and there was confusion about sizing and they asked a supervisor to come and settle the
argument. She wouldn’t enter the room and neither would any of the guards because they said “the place was crawling with
Corrie wrote, “my mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”14
The expression of gratitude, even in miserable circumstances, was rewarded with the
opportunity to bless many other women’s lives with faith and an understanding
of God’s love.
Since gratitude has such miraculous power to bring light to our lives in any
circumstance what can we do to cultivate this virtue in our lives?
First, we can look for
things to be grateful for; remembering that gratitude is expression of our
faith. Our lists would go first to eternal things – for the Plan of Salvation, for the Atoning Sacrifice of our
Redeemer that rescues us from death and hell, for the restoration of the Gospel
and priesthood keys, for the knowledge of our divine worth, for temples, for
living prophets, for scriptures and for the opportunities we have to grow and
learn. My list also includes the chance to serve a mission, to have Church callings that have helped me improve,
parents who taught me and encouraged me, brothers and their wives who are now
caring for our aging parents, wonderful neighbors, good friends, a home, the
opportunity to get an education, and the blessing of being alive when glasses
and titanium knees have been invented.
Stretch yourself when
you count your blessings. Think deeply
about even small things. Especially
think about the blessings in your life that have come from adversity. I share just a small example. During the first semester of my master’s
program I took a required course in research methods. I hoped to do my coursework and my thesis in one year because I had saved just enough money to attend school for a year.
One day the professor
said that if we wanted to finish our thesis and graduate by the following
August, we needed to have found our topic and a chair for our thesis within a
few weeks. I made an appointment to ask for her counsel on my idea and was elated when she volunteered to serve as the
I worked hard on my
culminating project for the course and turned it in at the end of the
quarter. A few days later, all papers and final exams under my belt, I stopped by her office to see if my project
paper had been graded. It had – and I
had received a failing grade. I was especially embarrassed because she had agreed to chair my thesis and now I had
failed her course. I asked what I could do and the professor said she would meet with me after the first of the
year. Needless to say, a cloud hung over my Christmas holidays.
I went back to school
early to meet with her. She counseled
with me. She showed me what I had done
incorrectly. She then gave me the
opportunity to redeem myself by doing the paper again. I worked and worked and submitted the paper
again. This time I passed with flying
colors. But the important thing was that because of what I had learned in that experience, when it came time to write my
thesis I had only one small revision to make on the first draft.
I am grateful for that
experience. Things I learned from that
experience helped me later in my doctoral program. And that experience made me a better teacher. It was a small thing – and at first a very
hard thing --but it is something that has blessed me over and over again.
Like the words of one of our hymns, once we earnestly begin to count our blessings
we will be surprised at what the Lord has done.
Second,if we are struggling to feel grateful, we can pray for the blessing of a
grateful spirit. Ask the Lord to help
you recognize the many blessings He has given you. Practice being grateful. Practice saying thank you, even for little
things. Practice seeing the silver
lining in every experience. Some may
feel they only need to be grateful for big things. But a professional counselor, Richard Nicastro, taught, “Small gratitudes are the antidote to taking life and others
Joseph B. Wirthlin suggested three things to help us feel more grateful. The first is to open our eyes to see the wonders and beauties of this world and to “enjoy every sight, every smell,
every taste, every sound.” The second is to open our hearts and let go of the negative emotions that “drag us down and
destroy the spirit” and to remember the cleansing power of the Atonement
through repentance. And third is to open our arms to reach out to others.”16
suggests several things that would make us more aware of tender mercies
extended by the Lord or others, including a gratitude journal, making gratitude
visits, creating a gratitude catalog, eliminating ungrateful thoughts,
expressing prayers of gratitude, training ourselves to use gratitude language,
and learning the art of being content with what we have.17
Learning to count our blessings and feel thanksgiving in our hearts meets only half of the conditions for having gratitude change our
lives. The second half comes in actually
expressing gratitude to God and to others.A renowned business leader once remarked that the two most important
words in the English language were “thank you.”18
I know from personal
experience how the simplest “thank you” can have a profound effect.” I taught 17-year-olds in Sunday School for
four years. One Sunday I was particularly discouraged because I felt I wasn’t making any progress with the
students no matter what I prepared. I was
beginning to feel like a failure. Later
in the week I ran into one of the students in the grocery store. He said, “thank you for the lesson on
Sunday. I learned a lot.” That single expression of gratitude kept me going for months.
In King Benjamin’s powerful sermon we learn that we should constantly thank our
Heavenly King. King Benjamin taught that we can never get ahead of the Lord because whenever we are obedient he pours
out additional blessings upon us. I think this is the reason that whenever someone is taught to pray, following the
Savior’s example, we begin with offering our gratitude before we make any new
Whether it is face-to-face, through a phone call, an e-mail, a note (most people still
truly appreciate the handwritten note), a text message, or a Facebook posting,
an expression of gratitude will make the difference in the lives of at least
two people – yours and the one to whom you expressed your thanks. We read in the scriptures that rejoicing,celebrating (like our Thanksgiving on Thursday), singing, and even dancing were
all expressions of gratitude for God’s blessings.20 David often wrote psalms of gratitude. Psalm 100 is one of my favorites.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of
into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all
While expressions of gratitude are necessary and important, if left alone our
gratitude will be incomplete.
David O. McKay said, “Gratitude is deeper than thanks. Thankfulness is the beginning of
gratitude. Gratitude is the completion
of thankfulness. Thankfulness may
consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”21
An old American childhood poem tells of three children who told their mother that
they loved her. One then forgot his work
and chores and went out to play. Another
teased and pouted until her mother was glad she went out to play. The third rocked the baby, swept the floor
and was “as helpful and busy” as a child could be. The poem ends with this question, “Which one of them really loved her best?”22
The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet teaches that one of the best expressions of gratitude to the Lord is the way we
live. Like faith and love, we show our
gratitude through our works23
of us benefit from the goodness of others.We enjoy the blessings of the Restored Gospel because pioneers made
sacrifices to keep the faith strong and alive.Missionaries somewhere along the line made sacrifices that brought us or
our families into the Church. The missionary who converted the first person in my family eventually left the
Church after the Missouri persecutions.But my family has always revered his name because he is the one who
brought the gospel to all of us through my great-great-great grandfather. Imagine my delight two years ago when, by chance, I happened to meet the great-great-great granddaughter of this
missionary while we were working on a project together. I was able to finally share with her my family’s deep love and gratitude for the missionary who gave our family the
gift of the gospel.
also benefit in other ways from many we will never know. We owe a debt to servicemen and women and patriots who made the supreme sacrifice for the freedoms that everyone who
lives in America enjoys. We owe a debt to pioneer educators who made great sacrifices to ensure that the Church’s
schools – like LDS Business College-- were able to grow and thrive, even
through very tough economic times. We owe a debt to those who invented marvelous things that help us communicate, and
do family history, and travel, and learn.
Our gratitude for them is played out in the way we take advantage of the
opportunities that have been given us.When you work hard and obtain a degree from LDS Business College you are
expressing gratitude for an opportunity given you by many who have gone before
– including the tithe payers of the Church, the many administrators of this
school through its wonderful 125 year history, and to teachers and staff along
the way who have worked so hard to build the school and to educate and prepare
and serve the students.
We express our gratitude though acts of honesty, integrity, courtesy and
kindness. But most of all we express
gratitude through our obedience to God and keeping our covenants. Through our faithful actions we glorify God
and let him know of our love and appreciation.We express appreciation for the gift of life and time in the choices we
make about how we use our time. We
express our appreciation for the scriptures when we read and study them. We show our gratitude for the temple by
worshiping there regularly. We show our thankfulness for the Atonement of the Savior by repenting and serving
others. We show that we are grateful for
a living prophet by following his counsel.We show we are grateful for the truths of the gospel by serving others
as Christ served us, as this poem by Janell R. Arrington suggests.24
With what coin shall I repay my eternal Father
For the gifts He hath bestowed upon me?
How shall my gratitude be made manifest and acceptable?
My payment shall not be in measure harsh and cold, the clink and chill of mineral,
But in warmth and kindness shall I honor my Creator,
In loving-kindness, as did the Son of Man, to all who
stand in need of strength to heart and limb.
May I, as He, serve all who daily walk with heavy
Those who hunger and thirst for warm words and small
So may my debt of mortal and immortal life be marked
in columns paid,
To serve His children.
Thus, daily succor to them doth bring eternal praise
to Him and peace of soul to me.24
my friends, thanksgiving is more than a holiday. It is a feeling from the heart that propels
us to live a Christ-like life. May we belike the grateful Samaritan and numbered among those who always return to give
 Luke 17: 12-19
 Doctrine and
Covenants 59:7, 21
[4 ]Thomas S. Monson,
“An Attitude of Gratitude” April 1992 General Conference. http://lds.org/general-conference/print/1992/04/an-attitude-of-gratitude
 Alma 34:38
 Doctrine and
 Gordon B.
Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley
(1997), p. 250.
 David B. Haight,
“Were There Not Ten Cleansed?” October
2002 General Conference. http://lds.org/general-conference/print/2002/10/were-there-not-ten-cleansed
Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th Edition (1939), p. 263.
 Vaughn E. Worthen, “The Value of Experiencing andExpressing Gratitude,” Ensign
 Thomas s. Monson, “The Divine Gift of Gratitude”
October 2010 General Conference. http://lds.org/general-conference/print/2010/10/the-divine-gift-of-gratitude
 Kate B. Carter, OurPioneer Heritage (1975), 17:305.
 1 Thessalonians 5:18
 In Nancy Henderson, “Giving Thanks: The Benefits of Expressing Gratitude,” AmericanProfile, November 20-16, 2011, pp. 8-9
 Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Live in Thanksgiving Daily,” Ensign
,September 2001. http://lds.org/ensign/print/2001/09/live-in-thanksgiving-daily
 See Worthen
 In Thomas S. Monson, “The Profound Power ofGratitude,” Liahona, September 2005.
 Mosiah 2:18-24
 Doctrine and Covenants 136:28, Ezra 3:11, Leviticus7:12
 James 2:18
 Janell R. Arrington, “Psalm of Gratitude and
Service” Ensign, April 1984.http://lds.org/ensign/1984/04/poetry/psalm-of-gratitude-and-service