In Doctrine and Covenants 78:19, we read a special promise from the Lord that those “who receiveth ALL things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto [them], even an hundred fold, yea, more.”
I have frequently pondered on this scripture and questioned many times what it means to be made glorious.
In November 2020, our dear prophet, President Nelson, invited the saints to flood social media with our thoughts of gratitude. I believe he did this as a means to help us overcome the worries, doubt and fears as well as the stresses and divisiveness that is growing in today’s world. I also believe this was to prepare us for Christ’s return, because “a grateful heart heals and changes us for the better quicker than another form of therapy,” according to a neurosurgeon I heard give a TED talk.
We have heard phrases like: “it is not happiness that makes us grateful” but “gratefulness that makes us happy,” and “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
Is it possible that being grateful could be a simple and easy cure to our ills, much like the ancient Israelites looking at Moses’ staff?
If we look at what our spiritual leaders and our scriptures tell us, we will see that indeed, a thankful heart not only has a profound effect on a person’s emotional and physical wellbeing, it also raises us up to a higher spiritual plane. The power of gratitude is also supported by the psychological and medical fields.
And perhaps, could it be something that moves us toward a higher glory? We know that the three degrees of glory are associated with the light of the stars, moon, and sun. So could the phrase, “be made glorious,” be one who has more light?
Consider the Jaredite seafarers though tossed upon terrors of the deep did “sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praised unto the Lord and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord” (Ether 6:9) Their gratitude produced revelation AND light continually!
Nephi also “did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions” (1 Nephi 18:16)
Dr. Alex Korb, found that gratitude, when practiced and expressed daily, can work almost the same as medications often with better results and no side-effects!
Gratitude is a shift in perspective and a conscious choice. In any situation, you get to choose to focus on a feeling of lack OR a feeling of abundance, choose a state of complaint or one of gratitude. Every day in every circumstance, this choice is always available to you.
I know from experience that when we are in the middle of something very painful, it’s not so easy to bring our thoughts into a state of gratitude. We often find ourselves in what feels like a tornado spinning endless with the debris of negative and fearful thoughts bombarding us from every direction. And we find it difficult to see straight as we are simply surviving.
Yet, as disciples of Christ, we are commanded to “thank the Lord [our] God in all things,” to “sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,” and to “let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God.” (D&C 59:7, Psalms 147:7, Alma 37:37)
What does this mean to be grateful in ALL things? ALL means everything. Perhaps gratitude in All things opens our eyes to see and feel beyond the present physical world with its seemingly inexplicable sorrows?
Over the years, I have had the sacred opportunity to listen to women in crisis whose sorrows were so dark and endless, they seemed to cut deep into each and every cell of their body. In these moments, I have grieved with them over their burdens. Often their grief is caused by a profound string of losses that feel like many deaths, yet, because there is no death, they are unable to have closure and often feel unsupported and misunderstood.
Perhaps today some of you may be facing a death of some sorts—the ending of something of value, perhaps a loss of a dream or even a loss of what was. Maybe estrangement from a loved one or family member? Others may feel they are facing the end of hope—the hope of a bright future, being married or bearing children or overcoming an illness—emotional or physical. Others maybe feeling confused and conflicted by many opposing voices, or may be facing the end of their faith, while others are wondering if they belong…and where they belong.
Our Father knew this would be so. And still, he asks us to be grateful in ALL things.
In most cases, those things we cannot see with our mortal eyes, are gifts in disguise.
President Uchtdorf said: “Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God. It requires that we trust God and hope for things we may not see but which are true. By being grateful, we follow the example of our beloved Savior, who said, ‘Not my will, but thine, be done.’ True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will.” (April 2014, Grateful in Any Circumstances)
Neil A Maxwell said: “When we don’t recognize or acknowledge God’s hand in our lives, working ‘in bringing to pass His eternal purposes and plans,’ we are misunderstanding the very nature of our existence in this life. Instead of acknowledging our dependence on Him and the myriad blessings that we receive, we become caught up in ‘selfishness and self-centeredness’ which inevitably leads to a focus on our own appetites instead of things of the spirit.” (“But for a Small Moment”)
When we give thanks while inour trials, we will gain more light within us, and will be strengthened beyond our capacities. Could this be how we are made glorious?
“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness (ungrateful pride) in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.” (D&C 88:67-68)
Thanksgiving and gratitude go hand in hand with humility. They are interconnected. Pride cannot exist when our hearts are giving thanks. And pride is what keeps us distant from God.
President Uchtdorf also said: “Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues. We can choose to be like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, while a prisoner in miserable conditions in Liberty Jail, penned these inspired words: ‘Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.’” (Grateful in Any Circumstances, April 2014)
There is a price we all must pay to be acquainted with God. What is that price for you? Are you willing to pay it? How will you do it?
Many years ago, I had some ongoing experiences so excruciating for me that over time I built thick walls around my heart in order to survive and function in life. Just over a year ago, I was petitioning the Lord once again, to pull the remaining bitterness-es from the pride-walls I had put up from my broken heart. I had also been practicing gratitude in ALL things for many months as an act of faith to be healed. One day last November while engaging in prayer for extra help to regain a softer and more humble heart, I heard the holy spirit say to me; “that bitterness and that hurt you feel and wish to be pulled out of you, is the dross that will be removed for your refinement, so continue to express gratitude IN your sorrows, not just after your sorrows and you will be healed.”
President Uchtdorf said: “Those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding.”
James E Faust said: “Out of the refiners fire can come a glorious deliverance. It can be a noble and lasting rebirth. The price to become acquainted with God will have been paid. There will be a reawakening of dormant, inner resources, a comfortable cloak of righteousness will be drawn around us to protect us and to keep us warm spiritually. Self-pity will vanish as our blessings are counted.” (The Refiner’s Fire, April 1979)
So yes, my faithful friends! I believe the simple expression of thanks given with grateful heart is indeed the modern-day way of looking to the staff of Moses to be healed.
Then shall we come to that place of maintaining gratitude in ALL things, where our lamps will be full. And the oil, (which is our relationship with Christ), will give us the light we need in the dark to make our way across deep and treacherous waters to join the bridegroom at the wedding feast.
And with thankfulness, we shall be made glorious; We will have enlightened minds, will live on higher ground, and shift our energy to a Celestial realm. “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light…” D&C 50:24
“And the things of this earth shall be added unto [us], even an hundred fold, yea, more.” D&C 78:19
The glorious blessings of gratitude!