Joy and Thanksgiving – The Commandment of Gratitude

For the assignment today, we read Doctrine and Covenants 59.

This chapter goes out to the saints – those who have already covenanted with God, and have kept many of the commandments. They are blessed for the commandments that they have kept. In verse four, The Lord says something that I find especially interesting:

“And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:4

So, the people who have been blessed because they kept the commandments are blessed with:

  1. Blessings from above
  2. Commandments – not a few
  3. Revelations in their time

Now – I’m accustomed to hearing that those who keep the commandments will receive blessings and revelation, but here we learn that those who keep the commandments will be blessed with more commandments.

I found this intriguing, so I followed the footnote for “commandments” to Alma 29:9

“I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy. – Alma 29:9

And here we go! Alma, who had first appeared in the Book of Mormon as antagonistic towards the church – completely uninterested in God’s commandments – was now glorying in the commandments of God. About 26 years or so had passed between these two events. Alma had been converted to the gospel, and had lived according to the commandments. The closer he got to God, the more he learned how to be righteous.

It is the same for us, as we covenant with God and keep the commandments, we receive more commandments. They are not given by a power hungry God, but are given to help fine-tune our path to perfection. And, like Alma, we ought to receive these commandments gratefully.

So – continuing with Section 59. The Lord then gives us commandments:

  • Love God with all our might, and in the name of Christ, serve God. (This commandment implies many things, but I don’t have time to write them all right now…interesting to think about, though)
  • Love thy neighbor as thyself (The Lord gives a few commandments that falls into this general commandment).
  • Thank God in all things!
  • Offer a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite Spirit.
  • Keep the Sabbath Day Holy.

– So, the Third commandment he gives is to thank Him. We are commanded to be grateful. And he wants us to be grateful in all things – not just our blessings. We need to be grateful in our trials, too…interesting.

A few years ago, I was troubled with a health issue. I had no idea what was wrong. I was in excruciating pain, and my husband felt prompted to give me a blessing (I was in way too much pain to ask for one). In the blessing, I wasn’t necessarily promised I would get better. Instead, I was told to seek medical attention, and to study more about the Savior. I was also told that this physical trial would be given to me so I could learn to be grateful for my trials while enduring them.

After the blessing, I was somewhat comforted, but somewhat surprised. I followed the advice of the blessing – and found medical attention the next day. It turned out I had an ovarian cyst bursting – which was the cause of such intense pain. And after months of tests and finally a surgery, I found out that I had endometriosis (which was the cause of other chronic pain that I was experiencing).

Anyways – I don’t want to sidetrack from the point of this story. I was really intrigued that the Lord would take time to single out the concept of being grateful for my trial – while in the midst of the trial. And I wonder what I learned from that scenario.

I feel especially sheepish recalling this experience as I think about my current situation.

We are always going through trials of one kind or another – at varying degrees of intensity. And currently, my life is great, but I feel like I’m dealing with a few trials of my own (not intense…nothing really to complain about…just learning to adjust to the normal things in life), and I’m forgetting to be grateful. I try to be grateful for my blessings, but I forget to be grateful for my trials, even though I know that my trials bring me strength and purpose, and that, eventually, the trial will be over. We don’t want our trials to make us bitter, and if we wade through our afflictions without gratitude, even when the trial is over, we will be cynical, bitter, and unhappy.

We must be grateful in ALL things…

– now – back to section 59.
When the Lord gives the commandments, he then tells us what our attitude should be.

“And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:15

When we work to keep the commandments, we should not be grudging or upset. We shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves, but we should be like Alma – glorying in the Lord – keeping the commandments that God has given us with thanksgiving and good cheer.

Doesn’t this make a world of difference? It almost feels easier to keep the commandments when we’re happy about it.

– Finally –
When we keep the commandments (which includes gratitude), and when we keep them with an attitude of gratitude and cheer, then the Lord blesses us. He doesn’t skimp on the blessings, either.

And then, guess what…we need to be grateful for our blessings!

“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:21

Sometimes, this is the part where we “fall off the wagon.” God will bless us, but we still have agency on how we choose to receive our blessings. When we receive our blessings with thanksgiving, then we really feel joy. We feel the Love that God has for us, and we rejoice in it. We are happy.

I’m grateful for this chapter in the Doctrine and Covenants. I know that gratitude is important, but this section has opened my eyes on how an attitude of gratitude is essential throughout the path – it is a commandments, it is an attitude we need in order to keep the commandments, and it is the way that we need to accept our blessings from God.

Every day, I keep learning that Gratitude is a lot more than just saying “thanks.”

***
For tomorrows assignment, click here

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