Saturday, December 1, 2018

President Ezra Taft Benson on gratitude for our blessings

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
"The Prophet Joseph is reported to have said at one time that one of the greatest sins for which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty would be the sin of ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a serious sin. There’s a great tendency for us in our prayers—in our pleadings with the Lord—to ask for additional blessings. Sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. Of course we need the daily blessings of the Lord. But if we sin in the matter of prayer, I think it is in our lack of the expressions of thanksgiving for daily blessings.
"President Brigham Young uttered very much the same warning as the Prophet Joseph—that this would be one of our great sins as Latter-day Saints. I do not think this is because we’re less grateful than other people—but we have so much more to be grateful for. I remember this was driven home to me as a young man when I heard of a visit made to the home of my grandfather, who was then bishop of a little country ward at Whitney, Idaho. In those days it was not uncommon to have stake conferences run for three days. And it was not uncommon for the visiting authority to take advantage of the opportunities to visit in the homes, not only of the stake presidency, but of some of the bishops. The story is told that Elder Joseph F. Smith—I think he was not then president (he may have been a member of the Twelve)—was visiting the old Oneida Stake of Zion, and true to custom, he had arranged to honor my grandfather and to take a meal at his home. In telling the story, Grandfather said that they were seated in the living room/dining room combination of the farm home. The table was laden with good things to eat. The family was gathered around—I don’t know how many (there were 13 children in that wonderful family and I presume some of them were away on missions as they usually were).
"Just before they were ready to start the meal, President Smith stretched his long arms over the table and turned to my grandfather and said, 'Brother Benson, all this and the gospel too?' What did President Smith mean? All this and the gospel too? The food represented the good things of life—food, clothing, and all the rest—the material blessings of life. This family of children—home, family, loved ones—all that the world has and the gospel too. I think that’s what the Prophet Joseph had in mind."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Receive All Things with Thankfulness," New Era, Nov. 1976, p. 4
Click here to read the full article

Are we truly aware of our blessings—of how much we receive from the Lord each day? Do we take much for granted, forgetting the source of the joy and richness in our life? It's so easy to get caught up in the busy nature of life and forget to express thanks to God for all we have:

I love the simple message of the story President Benson shared from his grandfather. "All this and the gospel too"—how frequently we should recognize both our temporal and spiritual blessings, and be led to thank God for them!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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