In “The Divine Gift of Gratitude” in the Nov. 2010 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson offers an insight on gratitude that I find profound. He explains that when Christ was faced with the challenge of feeding several thousand people while only a few loaves and fishes were available, He took those limited resources and, importantly, offered thanks to the Father for what He had. Then the miracle came. I’ve always glossed over the “thanks” part in the story, but now I want to put it in bold:
32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
Others might have complained or murmured, or sought to assign blame for the failure to bring enough. But Christ took what they had, expressed gratitude to God, and then acted with what He had and worked a miracle. Should that not be our approach each day? Let us take whatever we’ve been allotted, even if sparse and seemingly inadequate, and instead of complaining or focusing on what is missing, take it with gratitude and seek the Lord’s help to turn it into something more.
Gratitude is more than just a way of being kind and Christlike. It’s a key that can unlock miracles as we act in faith.
I mentioned these points in a talk I gave in Church today. I also mentioned an LDS man who once told me that he had never received an answer to prayer. I think that gratitude may also be one of the keys to more fully experiencing the blessings of prayer, and recognizing the many answers and helps the Lord does give us. When we look for the hand of the Lord in our life and recognize and thank Him for the blessings He has given, I believe that He will help us see even more and experience even larger reasons to be grateful. I believe that we will more fully see that there is a loving and living God who answers prayers and helps us today as He did in centuries gone by. May we approach God with gratitude and have our eyes and hearts opened to see what God has done and will do to bless us.
Here’s the talk from President Monson. A real classic, in my opinion.