Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gratitude: Something to be Grateful For

I am grateful that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have a missionary program. I am grateful that every day of the year we have missionaries in the world who's main purpose is to share the message that God lives, hears and answers our prayers.

Many years ago a couple of missionaries went out of their way, left the more comfortable city roads and began bicycling through the countryside. This is back when my parents were young and I wasn't yet born. Technology in Danish farming was mostly nonexistent at this time, leaving very little time for my parents to talk to any missionaries. The tractor had only just begun showing its appearance and was in the beginning not very versatile and only available to a select few farmers. Much of the work was done either by hand or by horse. Many crops had to be weeded and thinned, simply by farmers working their way up and down row after row of crops, until every field was completed. This would make for strong but sore and aching backs. This was not an optional hobby for anyone, it had to be done in time or the losses could ruin the farmer.

Taking a look at the situation, the missionaries quickly understood that if time was a commodity, they would have to make time and give time in order to get time in return. They both grabbed some tools and soon stood shoulder to shoulder with my parents while showing both their worth and sincerity. These missionaries were both able and willing to share in other's burdens. This was no small token effort, they knew how to work and work they did, enough so that when they had saved my parents the time needed for them to stop and listen, they did. When enough time, teaching and listening had passed, my parents were baptized.

I am grateful that missionaries continue to serve for the same reasons as back then. It gives me hope and I find it impressive, that young men and women worldwide are giving up precious time to share what they believe in. It is not only young people serving on missions but regardless of age they all sacrifice their time unselfishly. This wonderfully inspired program changes everyone involved for the better. I am grateful to have served a full-time mission, that my good wife has served a full-time mission and that our sons have followed and are following our example serving full-time missions.

I am grateful that thanks to revelation, strong spiritual leaders, Godly doctrine and a lot of good people of faith, reverence and obedience, we have a missionary program with 52,483 missionaries (2010 Statistics) in 340 missions around the world and the church materials are translated into 166 languages.

There is far more cause for gratitude to be found: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does not spend their efforts advertising the good they do around the world, it seems they have much better things to talk about. It is consequently a little known fact that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter'Day Saints has 8,583 Welfare Services Missionaries and Humanitarian Service Missionaries stationed around the world and that since 1985, more than 178 countries have benefitted with more than $ 1,3 Billion of humanitarian assistance from the welfare program of the church.

Indeed, I have much to be grateful for and I'm grateful that I am not the only one. If it wasn't for people believing that God still lives, if it wasn't for prophets, seers and apostles alive today, receiving revelation for all who will take some time and listen, I might never have heard about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, my children might not have so much to be grateful for and we might never have learned the value of gratitude.

Why then is gratitude so important? Most people understand that courteous and polite behavior includes gratitude. Upon receipt of a gift or favor, a pleasant exchange takes place confirming that this was well received and appreciated. When gratitude is turned to God it may take on a whole new dimension, depending on our scope of things. 

It may sound like kindergarten logic that giving thanks to God for the good in life means accrediting your blessings to God. But, this is not just a matter of saying "Thank you." It's about admitting that everything good in life has come from God.  He gave you the opportunity, ability and motivation, while you justified His trust in you with your efforts. Giving God the credit for all the good in your life can actually change your life for the better. 

Instead of thinking that you did everything all by yourself, express your gratitude to God. Be grateful that you could--and were able. Instead of thinking of yourself as more talented, able, stronger, harder working or luckier than others, give thanks to God that you have been given the means to help others find and develop their talents and strength that they too might succeed. 

There is a great deal of happiness found in seeing others benefitting and succeeding through your efforts. As you begin to make gratitude a regular part of your prayers, your outlook on life might soon follow and life's hurdles may not seem quite so obstructive. I have yet to learn a lot about right and wrong but I do know that recognizing the hand of of God in my life has made a difference for me.

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