“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” – Psalm 136:1
Gratitude is an underrated quality. It has the capacity to expand our souls, lighten our burdens, humble us, give us greater perspective, and fill us with hope. In our me-centered society, however, we often forget to remember the myriad of things our Creator has given us, our family and friends have done for us, and which we enjoy as sojourners in the marvelous 21st Century. With Thanksgiving just days away, we have the perfect opportunity to express our gratitude and tell people how good God has been to us and why life is not the drudgery we often depict it as.
Among the myriad of things for which I’m grateful, three stand out during this particular season: My Faith, Family, and Freedom. I will endeavor to explain why each means so much to me. As you read, I invite you to consider those things that are truly important to you. I also invite you to share them publicly. Together, we can inspire others to count their blessings as well and thus brighten the world in some measure.
Of all the things that have blessed and shaped my life, none has done so more than my faith in, and witness of, Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Ghost, I know that Jesus Christ, that humble Man of Nazareth, is the Son of God, the resurrected Redeemer, and the Lord of lords. He died on the Cross of Calvary, but He yet lives in a perfected form, with a body of flesh and bone (Luke 24:36-43). As sure as I know any other thing, I know that my Savior lives.
I’m grateful for the influence the Gospel of Jesus Christ has had in my life. The precepts of the Master have informed my politics and principles and have directed my decisions in every aspect of life. Whatever good qualities I possess today are a result of my faltering attempt to follow the Lord. I’m truly thankful that He does not cast us off when we fail to follow Him perfectly. Instead, the Savior reaches out, takes us by the hand, mentors us, shows us the way, and helps us take each baby step forward when we let Him.
The Lord has always been with me and has helped me – even, and perhaps especially, when I didn’t deserve it. In times I’ve been low, He has raised me up. In times of deep depression, He has been there to comfort me. In times of sorrow for my sins, He has wiped away my tears and lifted me one inch at a time. In times of need, He has provided. In times of stress, He has calmed me when I turned to Him in prayer. In times of joy, He has smiled with me. In times of inspiration, He has assisted me and given me energy to create, evaluate, and excel. And in times of love, He has embraced me and allowed me to feel His infinite love for me.
I’m grateful for the host of answered prayers I’ve received. In big things and in little things, my Father in Heaven has answered my prayers. I can’t claim that every prayer I’ve uttered has been answered, but when I need it most, He always hears me and responds. Moments ago, as I was writing this article, He answered a small prayer. No one can tell me that prayer doesn’t work. It does. I know it does. I’ve had too many experiences to ever believe otherwise. Often, Father has answered my prayers in powerful and immediate ways, obliterating all doubt in my heart about whether He lives and loves me.
I can stand before the world today and declare that I know my Eternal Father lives, that His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Redeemer of mankind, and that the Holy Spirit imparts the truth of these things to the honest seeker of truth. I’m grateful for this knowledge! I’m grateful that I am a son of my living Father in Heaven. I’m grateful to be a follower of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. And I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit has
In my personal life, as in society, faith is the first and most important principle. As individuals, and as a civilization, we must turn our hearts back to Christ. We must begin to believe in His law, love, and mercy once again. We must make the Gospel a part of our daily lives and public conversation. The name of the Lord must be repeated in our hearts, homes, schools, government buildings, and places of worship. Only by reviving and preserving our Faith and becoming a godly society once more can we escape the traps set for us by the enemy of our souls.
I’m sincerely grateful that Faith still burns brightly in the hearts of millions of my countrymen. A remnant of faithful followers of the Lord Jehovah is rising. Let’s show our gratitude to our Savior this Thanksgiving by inviting Him into our hearts and homes. Let’s pray together in His name, read the holy scriptures in our families, publicly express our thanks to Him and our Father, and go about doing good as He did during His mortal ministry and as He continues to do today.
The family is the most important unit in society. Society is but a mirror image of the families that comprise it. If society fails, it is because its families failed first. Truly, society is won or lost at the dinner table. This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to gather your family around you, regardless of the discouragement of politicians and the media, and tell them how much they mean to you. I also take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to God for my family, and to my family for the blessing they’ve been in my life.
Not only do I feel grateful beyond measure for my parents and siblings, without whom I wouldn’t have made it this far in life, but for my own new little family. Last year, I married my beautiful wife. This year, we invited a sweet little girl into our home. My little Evie is the thing I’m most grateful for. I’m thankful for her endless abundance of smiles. No matter what I’m feeling, her radiant smile warms me and makes me smile, too. I’m grateful for her sweetness. I can feel love and joy radiate from her spirit and from her gorgeous, ever-changing hazel eyes. Evie is a reminder to me of what’s really important in life; a living reminder that God is good and wants us to be happy.
The children of God are designed to be happy. The place they can experience the greatest amount of growth, fulfillment, and joy is in the family. It was not happenstance that Father commanded Adam and Eve to unite as “one flesh” and to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:24). The family is the incubator of goodness, civility, citizenship, chivalry, manners, refinement, charity, purity, faith, love, and happiness.
I’m grateful for my upbringing by my parents. They taught me the best they could to know and love God. They taught me about the world. They gave me good examples. I learned the value of hard work and study from my Dad, and the value of selflessness and charity from my Mom. My sisters and brother have also been a source of joy and help. My family are my best friends. And I’m thrilled to add my wife, who tries so hard to be a good mother, and my amazing daughter to that list of best friends forever.
I encourage each of you to spend as much time with your family as possible. We often get so busy in this fast-paced world we live in that we neglect what matters most – our family. An old adage says: Love is spelled T-I-M-E. And so it is. Give your family your time. Husbands, set aside time for your wives. Wives, carve our time just for your husband. Parents, always give the maximum amount of time to your children. Siblings, spend your time with your brothers and sisters. Families that devote their time to God and to each other are families that will survive the storms of life.
Again, I’m more thankful than I can say for my family, my wife, and my little girl. They make life meaningful. Life would be bland without them. I’d lose my motivation to research, write, and do the things I do without the knowledge that it is all to give my family a better world to live in.
Our Faith and Families, as wonderful and indispensable as they are, ultimately mean very little without Freedom. Freedom is the spice of life. We are each endowed by God with sacred rights to enjoy and exercise, the agency to choose our course, and personal accountability for our actions. It is Freedom that allows us to worship our God, enjoy our families, and find fulfillment in life. I’m grateful that though it is battered and bruised, Freedom still exists.
I’ve lived on multiple continents and have several years of experience in foreign lands under different systems of government and law. Without question, there is more Liberty in the United States than anywhere else on this planet. And I say this while also acknowledging that we have lost a tremendous amount of our Freedom because of the machinations of traitors. Yet, despite what we’ve lost, we still possess our basic rights, albeit in an embattled state – the right of free speech, the right of assembly, the right of due process, the right to worship the god of our choice, the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, the right of private property, the right of habeas corpus, and so forth.
I’m grateful for my God-given rights and the inspired Constitution which safeguards them. I’m thankful for the wise and patriotic men who founded America and raised up a free society on its solid foundation of Freedom. I’m grateful for the American heritage of Liberty, Independence, and resistance to tyrants – a heritage unequaled anywhere in the world. I’m thankful for the right to choose my own path in life, which includes my choice to follow the Savior and to be with my wife and daughter. Liberty is the most indispensable of all blessings because it enables all the rest.
I encourage you to exercise your Freedom this Thanksgiving by denying the despotic demands of tyrants who would keep you away from your family on this special holiday. Use your agency and choose to gather with your family, sharing your testimony of God and your sincerest feelings of gratitude with them. We say, “Let Freedom ring.” But Freedom cannot ring if we stifle it in our personal lives. Use your rights, exercise your agency, and show that you are a free individual.
Yes, I’m so very thankful for my Freedom! It is the catalyst for enjoying my Faith and my Family. It is the supreme gem in the crown of blessings given by our Heavenly Father. Without it, nothing else matters. With it, we can choose what matters to us. Choose to exalt, observe, and exercise your Faith, Family, and Freedom this Thanksgiving.
Dear reader, gratitude matters. An attitude of gratitude will go a long way toward healing our broken society. It will bring greater peace and perspective into your life. It will also bring the blessings of Heaven into your home because God our Father loves and prospers those who acknowledge His hand in their lives.
I urge you take this special opportunity to express your gratitude to everyone you can. I invite you to adopt the challenge laid down by Russell M. Nelson, the prophet-president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He challenged us to do two things during this Thanksgiving season:
“Over nine and a half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems. No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription. . . .
“As a doctor, I know the value of good therapy. So, dear friends, may I prescribe two activities to help us experience the healing power of gratitude. First, I invite you, just for the next seven days, to turn social media into your own personal gratitude journal. Post every day about what you are grateful far, who you are grateful for, and why you are grateful. At the end of seven days, see if you feel happier and more at peace . . . Working together, we can flood social media with a wave of gratitude that reaches the four corners of the earth.
“Second, let us unite in thanking God through daily prayer. Jesus Christ taught His disciples to pray by first expressing gratitude to God and then petitioning Him for the things we need. Prayer brings forth miracles.”
I know that during those times when I’ve consistently expressed greater gratitude and focused on what’s good in my life instead of what’s wrong in the world, I have felt more Heavenly power, light, and joy. I therefore know that President Nelson’s challenge, if heeded, will yield good fruit.
Let us all work harder to cultivate an attitude of gratitude so that we may reap the blessings of peace and happiness it provides. This Thanksgiving, choose to be grateful. Express your love and sincere thanks to your God, your family, and your fellow beings, even for the smallest of things. This day and always, choose gratitude!
November 20, 2020