As we observe the world around us, it may seem we live in a time where many people are prosperous, yet discontent. To be certain, there are poor among us, and those who find themselves in difficult situations.
However, when we contrast our standard of living to that of other countries and other periods in the world’s history, most will find we live in relatively speaking, very comfortable circumstances.
It may be said it is the American way to have ambition and to seek to better our lives. I see nothing wrong with working hard to secure a better life for ourselves and our families. However, it is unfortunate many seem to focus more on what they don’t have, than what they do.
It may be instructive to look at the circumstances around which the Pilgrims celebrated their First Thanksgiving in 1621. They landed at what was to be known as Plymouth, Mass., the year before, and of the 100 who first arrived, 50 survived to witness their first successful harvest the next fall.
Their survival was aided by the kindness of local Native Americans. At the completion of their harvest, the Pilgrims invited the local Native Americans to feast with them. About 90 Wampanoag tribe members joined in the three-day feast. Although half Pilgrims had died within a year, they still acknowledged the blessings of God in helping them to survive and begin to prosper.
Russell M. Nelson, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said this in October 2016.
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives…when the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation…Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening or not happening in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him.”
When we teach members of our church and friends to pray, we teach four simple steps, for we believe prayer is meant to be a conversation with God. We address our Father in Heaven, and we finish “in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
In between the beginning and end, we teach people to thank God for what we have and ask Him for those things we need. I think it is significant we are taught to thank before we ask. It is a sign of courtesy and reverence and helps remind us of the blessings God has given us before we ask him for other things we may need.
A familiar hymn, “Count Your Blessings,” gives us good counsel regarding our approach to mortal challenges:
“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.”
“Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?”
“Count your many blessings; every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by.”
“When you look at others with their lands and gold, think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.”
“Count your many blessings; money cannot buy, your reward in heaven nor your home on high.”
“So, amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged; God is over all.”
“Count your many blessings; angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”
“Count your blessings; name them one by one; count your many blessings; see what God hath done.”
During the Last Supper, Jesus taught, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
As you take time to congregate with friends and family, remember to take time to list and thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings you have received at His hand. It may surprise you what the Lord has done!
May God’s peace be upon you at this special time of year. Happy Thanksgiving!
LaDon Linde of Sunnyside is First Counselor in the Yakima Washington Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.