Question: Does having gratitude for our blessings bring us closer to God?
Answer: Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. We should regularly express our gratitude to God for the blessings He gives us and to others for the kind acts they do for us.
The Lord has promised, "He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious" (D&C 78:19). Gratitude is an uplifting, exalting attitude. People are generally happier when they have gratitude in their hearts. We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful.
We should be thankful for the wonderful blessings that are ours and for the tremendous opportunities we have. We can be thankful to our parents, family, friends, and teachers. We should express appreciation to everyone who has assisted us in any way.
We should thank our Heavenly Father for His goodness to us by acknowledging His hand in all things, thanking Him for all that He gives us, keeping His commandments, and serving others. We should especially thank Him for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, for the Savior's great example, for His teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help, for His infinite Atonement.
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11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests (as required by the Law of Moses). And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed (healed).
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet (humbly laid down at Jesus’ feet, a sign of deep humility in Jewish culture), giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger (non Israelite. This may imply that the other nine lepers were Jews).
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
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Elder David B. Haight:
I’m honored to be here this afternoon to spend a few moments with all of you and bear to you my witness and my testimony and my feelings regarding this wonderful work...
I wish at this time to pay tribute and express gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the blessings I’ve received all the years of my life, for having been born of goodly parents and raised in a goodly home. And as we have moved around the country in all of the activities we have been involved in, I’m grateful to have been associated with good people. Good people influence your life and help in molding your own personality and character and help you to mingle out in society and live the way that you should live. They help you carry on worthwhile enterprises, and they lift you onto a higher plane.
And so I’m grateful to my Heavenly Father for the blessings that I have had. I bear witness of Him, that I know that He is our Father and that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Creator, and the Savior of all of mankind. I am grateful for that majestic role He has played in the Creation and the establishing of the gospel on the earth and for the opportunity that brings to mankind, if they will listen, to hear and to understand and to have the blessings of heaven if they merit them and to live in such a way that the gospel becomes a great part of their life.
I have gratitude for my ancestors who joined the Church back in the early days of the Church, who moved from upstate New York to join with the Saints in Nauvoo and became involved with the Nauvoo Temple and then with the exodus into the West. For all of these blessings, I’m grateful on this day, as I pronounce them to you.
As recorded in Luke, one day the Savior entered a village where there were 10 lepers. Now, those of us who have grown up in the last few years know very little about lepers. Leprosy was a terrible, dreaded disease anciently. These 10 lepers came to the Savior and said, “Master, have mercy upon us; have mercy upon us who have that terrible ailment of leprosy.” And He said to the 10 lepers, “Go visit your priest, and he will take care of you, ”which they did. They went to see their priests, and they were cleansed, all 10 of them. A short time later, one of them returned to the Savior and fell on his face and his hands and his knees, thanking the Savior for blessing him and making him well from that terrible disease. And the Savior said to that one man: “Weren’t there 10? What has happened to the other nine? Where are they?” (See Luke 17:11–19.)
As I’ve read that story again and again, it’s made a great impression upon me. How would you like to be part of the “nine society”? Wouldn’t that be something, to be numbered among those who failed to return and acknowledge the Savior for the blessings He had given them? Only one returned.
It’s so easy in life for us to receive blessings, many of them almost uncounted, and have things happen in our lives that can help change our lives, improve our lives, and bring the Spirit into our lives. But we sometimes take them for granted. How grateful we should be for the blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into our hearts and souls. I would remind all of you that if we’re ever going to show gratitude properly to our Heavenly Father, we should do it with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength, because it was He who gave us life and breath.
He gave us the opportunity to live as we are, to have the gospel in our lives, to have the example of good people like President Hinckley leading the Church throughout the world today and the opportunity for the young people to look to him with pride and gratitude for a leader who looks and acts the part and demonstrates what the Spirit of Christ can bring into our heart and soul. As that gratitude is magnified and developed and expanded, it can bless our hearts and our minds and our souls to where we’d like to continue to carry on and do those things that we are asked to do.
God lives. He is our Father. I testify to you that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and the Prophet Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration. President Hinckley is our inspired leader over this Church throughout the world today. Bless his heart for all that he does and for the inspiration and revelation and vision that is his as he leads the work forward. I leave this witness with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 71; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 224-225; Excerpts from General Conference, October 2002, “Were There Not Ten Cleansed?” by Elder David B. Haight.