Thankful

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Today’s article appeared in the November 2020 issue of The Gospel News as the cover story.

Now more than ever…” We have heard these words so often during 2020. It is typically followed by a statement about how we should feel or a suggested action that we should take during our current circumstances. One that we do not hear too often, yet could actually be the key to our thriving and not just surviving “in this challenging time” (another common statement), is “Now more than ever—we should be Thankful.”

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Sometimes, it is a challenge! We have all been affected by this pandemic in different ways. For some, depending on the area you live in or even your age or circumstance, maybe your day-to-day life did not change much. For many, there have been concerns about jobs, trying to adjust to working from home, time on furlough, and the threat of losing their jobs altogether. Others had loved ones who were ill or died from the virus, elderly parents that were in assisted living facilities whom they could no longer visit, small children who needed to adjust to learning from home, older kids that were in college which caused concern, reduced income or ability to obtain the basic needs, other health concerns that went unaddressed—the list goes on and on.

Our stories are all different. For me, I have a primary immune deficiency; I receive infusions of plasma every week to help me maintain my “normal” way of life. When this all started, it was as if everyone was catching a glimpse of how I always live. I am always careful, wash my hands frequently, sanitize my area daily. I need to be cautious in groups and occasionally wear a mask. Because I am in a high-risk category, I have been required to be even more cautious than most during this pandemic. This means working from home only, avoiding even grocery stores, and making sure that not only myself but also my family follow safety precautions.

There have been moments when I have been wrapped up in self-pity, not just because of the pandemic but because I was constantly reminded that I have this immune deficiency. Typically, those moments would then be followed by guilt about feeling sorry for myself, because I have a very blessed life; I have everything I need.

What has brought me through? Focusing on gratitude and being thankful for what I do have. I am blessed in so many ways, both naturally and spiritually. I have a home and a family, access to medical care, brothers and sisters who care about me, the Restored Gospel, I can obtain salvation and eternal life. I have hope, I know Jesus Christ and HE LOVES ME.

We have all been more thankful for the everyday things we took for granted, simple necessities like toilet paper, food, and cleaning products, or bigger things like our jobs, the ability to go to school, and spending time with friends and family. Are we not more thankful for the doctors, scientists, and tools like masks that we have to help combat this virus and work to stay safe, and for technology which has allowed us to meet throughout the week from the safety of our homes until we were able to reopen our buildings? Most of all, are we not more appreciative for the hope of salvation and the opportunity to focus on what is most important in our lives?

Gratitude for these things came by way of a trial. Achieving gratitude every day is obtainable, though. The key to a grateful heart is PRACTICE.

Like most good things in life, it does not happen on its own. It requires work and planning. In past issues we have shared suggestions on how to practice it. Brother Ken Lombardo shared an experience in the November 2018 issue of a time in his life where he had to work hard to feel grateful. Along with his family, each day they would write something they were thankful for on a Post-It and put it on the wall. He wrote, “We were surprised how these little notes lifted our spirits and disciplined us to see the Hand of God in our lives.” In the November 2018 issue, we suggested a similar project with a gratitude jar, where you write something daily that you are thankful for and put it in the jar. We also suggested that you choose one prayer each day where you ask for nothing and only thank God.

In the 2019 issue, Brother Anthony Scolaro wrote in an editorial that an attitude of thankfulness benefits the bearer physically, psychologically, and socially, and said that, “gratitude transforms our nature.”

Brother Doug Obradovich encouraged us to “Set aside time to intake nothing more than His Spirit (fast) and send back all glory to our Creator” in a “Fast & Prayz” day in the 2016 Thanksgiving issue.

Sister Jan Bork challenged the kids in the November 2015 issue to take their age and say thank you to that many people in the month of November. All of these are great ideas, and you can read about them and more in the past issues of the Gospel News on the Church website.

We hope that these reminders give you ways to practice your gratitude and rise above any negative feelings you are having as we face the “challenges of today.”

“To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” (Psalm 30:12)

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

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