This week was no different. The assigned topic was Grateful in Any Circumstances from Dieter F. Uchtdorf. All joking aside, I am so glad to have this calling and the lessons I learn from it - it really helped me find some peace amidst the puke and crying that was last week.
And it's perfect for Thanksgiving. A wonderful reminder that we should live each day in the spirit of gratitude.
Grateful in Any Circumstances by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The beginning of his talk focuses on life’s extreme challenges.
Quote #1: “Often their grief is caused by what seems to them as an ending. Some are facing the end of a cherished relationship, such as the death of a loved one or estrangement from a family member. Others feel they are facing the end of hope—the hope of being married or bearing children or overcoming an illness. Others may be facing the end of their faith, as confusing and conflicting voices in the world tempt them to question, even abandon, what they once knew to be true. Sooner or later, I believe that all of us experience times when the very fabric of our world tears at the seams, leaving us feeling alone, frustrated, and adrift. It can happen to anyone. No one is immune.”
WE CAN BE GRATEFUL
Quote #2: “Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious. We can be grateful!”
Quote #3: “It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But 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.”
Pres. Uchtdorf points out that we are COMMANDED to be grateful, throughout the scriptures:
- “thank the Lord [our] God in all things,”
- “sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,”
- “let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God.”
Why? Why are we commanded to be grateful?
- All of His commandments are given to make blessings available to us. Commandments are opportunities to exercise our agency and to receive blessings. Our loving Heavenly Father knows that choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy and great happiness.
BEING GRATEFUL FOR THINGS
- At the end of the day, what are we thankful for?
- The song tell us to “count our blessings.” Who does this? How does it make you feel?
Prayers of gratitude - One sister shared a story about being challenged to pray for 45 minutes straight and do nothing but express gratitude. She said it was hard and she's not going to do it every day, but it was an incredibly amazing experience.
Pres. Uchtdorf wants us to expand on the "count your blessings" idea. He says: “Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. “
Quote #4: “It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.”
What does this mean to you?
Pres. Uchtdorf asks How can we be grateful when it seems that what we want is out of reach?
- He suggests “gratitude as a disposition, a way of life independent of situation.” Someone want to explain that?
BEING GRATEFUL IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
Pres. Uchtdorf points to many scriptural examples of being grateful even in times of extreme trial. Can you name them?
- Nephi - When his brothers tied him up on the ship—which he had built to take them to the promised land—his ankles and wrists were so sore “they had swollen exceedingly,” and a violent storm threatened to swallow him up in the depths of the sea. “Nevertheless,” Nephi said, “I 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.
- Job - We can choose to be like Job, who seemed to have everything but then lost it all. Yet Job responded by saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return … : the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
- Pioneers - We can choose to be like the Mormon pioneers, who maintained a spirit of gratitude during their slow and painful trek toward the Great Salt Lake, even singing and dancing and glorying in the goodness of God. Many of us would have been inclined to withdraw, complain, and agonize about the difficulty of the journey.
- Joseph Smith - 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.”
Quote #5: When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
I think this is really hard to accomplish. One of those things that you and I can sit here and say “yes, I really should do that.” But how do you do it, when you’re in the middle of it?
- One sister pointed out that it's all about perspective. She shared the story of a mission president and his wife who had recently started their call in South America. It had been raining since their arrival and the roof was not holding well. The sweet sister had been running around her house all day trying to put buckets to catch water streaming through the holes. She couldn't call anyone to help because she didn't speak the language. Her husband came home to find her in tears and frustrated. He put his arm around her and said "Let's laugh about this now." Exasperated she asked "what?!" and he said "well, in a few years I know we will look back on this and laugh. So why don't we just laugh now?"
I love this quote from Pres. Uchtdorf. One of my favorites from this entire session.
Quote #6: “We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?”
GRATITUDE AS AN ACT OF FAITH
Pres. Uchtdorf says “Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God.” I’m kind of having a hard time to wrap my head around that. What does this mean?
- 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.
- In times of trial, I was especially grateful for the Atonement for comforting and sustaining me. I was grateful for my knowledge of the Gospel giving me an eternal perspective, that the trial would not be forever. I did not love the trial, but I loved that through it and during it I felt closer to my heavenly father because I needed him more acutely. I guess that’s what Pres. Uchtdorf meant? That’s my interpretation anyway.
A bit of a long quote, but it really helps to clarify exactly what he means:
Quote #7: “When the Apostles recognized the risen Christ—when they experienced the glorious Resurrection of their beloved Savior—they became different men. Nothing could keep them from fulfilling their mission. They accepted with courage and determination the torture, humiliation, and even death that would come to them because of their testimony.12 They were not deterred from praising and serving their Lord. They changed the lives of people everywhere. They changed the world. You do not need to see the Savior, as the Apostles did, to experience the same transformation. Your testimony of Christ, born of the Holy Ghost, can help you look past the disappointing endings in mortality and see the bright future that the Redeemer of the world has prepared.“
Remember at the beginning, Pres. Uchtdorf noted that so many of our trials seem to spring from endings. He circles back to that to emphasize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we are not made for endings.
Quote #8: “In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings. Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny. The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.”
Pres. Uchtdorf encourages to live in thanksgiving daily. He closes by saying: “How blessed we are if we recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life. 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”