Reading up on Thanksgiving in the Scriptures, I came across D&C 59 that is very fitting for the Holiday celebration. The topic is a discussion of the proper Lord’s Day observance. It could be talking just as much about the Thanksgiving season and what it can mean as a religious Holiday. Ponder the following exhortation:
13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.
15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the afulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20 And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.
21 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.
What goodness could be accomplished if, as a culture, such an attitude would be maintained for longer than a day or short month. Instead, we think ahead to Christmas without the glorious anticipation of piety for the birth of the Savior. Rather, we spend most of the time running around to shop, look at the bright lights, and enjoy spectacle divorced of spiritual wonder. No longer is the focus on family, friends, or charity beyond a few token acknowledgements in word and deed.
Elder Marion G. Romney wote about thankfulness:
Great men have always recognized the greatness of God and their dependence upon him, and they have with regularity rendered to him gratitude and thanksgiving.
Consider these words written by Abraham Lincoln as part of a resolution in 1863:
“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 number, 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 who made us.
“It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our … sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” (John Wesley Hill, Abraham Lincoln, Man of God, 4th ed., New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, p. 391.)
Note also how the Prophet Joseph Smith responded to the receipt of some letters during the time he was languishing in Liberty Jail. “We received some letters last evening [and] we were much gratified with their contents,” he wrote. “We had been a long time without information; and when we read those letters they were to our souls as the gentle air is refreshing.” (History of the Church, 3:293.)
You and I are, of course, moved by these quotations. They are not, however, the source of our most powerful motivation to develop greater gratitude and more fervent thanksgiving. We have been commanded by the Lord to be thankful.
He then went on to quote D&C 46:7 and 32, D&C 59:5-7, D&C 78:19, D&C 98:1, and D&C 136:28 to show that thankfulness isn’t just an emotion. It is a part of our required religious observance. No prayer or action can pass without an expression of gratitude for all the Lord has done for us personally and the world. To have a thankful spirit means to stop and smell the roses blooming all around. Even in the winter of life each snowflake has a beauty masked by the harshness of the cold. This Thanksgiving remember, ” When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed/ When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost/ Count your many blessings; name them one by one/ And it will surprise you what the Lord has done” (LDS Hymn 241). After the season, don’t forget to keep expressing gratitude for whatever blessing, great or small, we each are given.
In the spirit of the above words, I would like to say how grateful I am for the Internet. Despite the evil that can be found online, there is also a great many opportunities to have a positive connection with family, friends, and strangers who otherwise would have little or no communication.
What are you Thankful for?