Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Marvin J. Ashton on giving thanks even in challenging times

Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-1994) served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1971 until his death in 1994 at age 78.
"Today I hope my message will bring new consideration and meaning to those two important words thank you. Frankly, over the years I have been troubled by the admonition contained in D&C 98:1: 'Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks' (emphasis added).
"My inability to give thanks in all things, particularly those events or occasions that have caused disappointment, delay, and misunderstanding, has given me concern. My capacity to express thanks in everything has been quite inadequate. Without 'the passing of time factor' I would have failed miserably.
"Appreciation for all people and events that come into our lives is most important because it is God’s way of helping us to grow. The ultimate maturity is being able to feel and express appreciation promptly, being fully aware of the value and importance, and showing gratitude for it."
- Marvin J. Ashton, "And in Everything Give Thanks," BYU Devotional, September 1, 1991
Click here to read the full talk

I always appreciate the glimpses of the "human side" of someone I respect as much as I do Elder Ashton. In every exposure I had to him, he was a devoted, sensitive, thoughtful, and kind man. But in this excerpt he expresses a very normal characteristic—the struggle we often have to keep a broad perspective in the midst of trials or challenges. It's hard to follow the admonition, "in everything give thanks" when "events or occasions that have caused disappointment, delay, and misunderstanding."

It's not unusual for "the passing of time factor" to provide perspective that allows us to see and understand the subtle blessings of our challenges. But the "ultimate maturity" Elder Ashton describes is to have the faith and trust in the moments of difficulty that enable us to be truly grateful.

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