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, said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
“As disciples of Christ, we are commanded to ‘thank the Lord our God in all things' (Doctrine and Covenants 59:7), to ‘sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving' (Psalm 147:7) and to ‘let our hearts be full of thanks unto God,'" (Alma 37:37) said President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.
Speaking during the Sunday morning session of conference, he said that over the years he has met with many people whose sorrows seem to reach the very depths of their souls.
“Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique,” he said. “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, even joyful, and even glorious.
“We can be grateful.”
It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God, said President Uchtdorf.
“Commandments are opportunities to exercise our agency and to receive blessings,” he said. “Our loving Heavenly Father knows that choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy and great happiness.”
President Uchtdorf said it is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if thanks is proportional to the number of blessings a person can count.
“Most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude,” he said.
It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going well, he said. “Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being ‘thankful for things’ we focus on being ‘thankful in our circumstances’ — whatever they may be.”
President Uchtdorf told Church members worldwide that the choice is theirs.
“We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. Or we can choose to be like Nephi, whose grateful heart never faltered. We can choose to be like Job, who seemed to have everything but then lost it all. 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. 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’ (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17).
“We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.”
President Uchtdorf said this kind of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around a person.
“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.”
Further, President Uchtdorf said, "Being grateful in times of distress does not mean we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
“This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.”
Being grateful in any circumstances is an act of faith in God, said President Uchtdorf.
“It requires that we trust God and hope for things that we may not see but which are true,” he said.
True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony, he added. “It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will.
“In any circumstance, our sense of gratitude is nourished by the many and sacred truths we do know: that our Father has given His children the great plan of happiness; that through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can live forever with our loved ones; that, in the end, we will have glorious, perfect, and immortal bodies, unburdened by sickness or disability and that our tears of sadness and loss will be replaced with an abundance of happiness and joy.”
President Uchtdorf said Church members will be blessed if they recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life.
“Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision,” he said. “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.
“May we ever and constantly raise our voices and show by word and deed our gratitude to our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, even Jesus Christ.”