During the 186th Semiannual General Conference, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, focused his remarks Sunday morning on gratitude — specifically on the Sabbath day.
“We feel grateful for many things: a kindness from a stranger, a meal when we are hungry, a dry roof over our head when storms arise, a broken bone that heals, and the hearty cry of a newborn baby.”
For Latter-day Saints, the Sabbath is such a moment, President Eyring explained, “a day of gratitude and love.”
Noting the importance of loving the givers of gifts, President Eyring shared “the Lord’s words for how to give thanks and how to love on the Sabbath.”
“I give unto them a commandment, saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him. Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things. Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:5, 7-9).
The Lord then offers a warning to those who fail to thank the givers of the gifts. “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).
President Eyring shared the lyrics of the hymn “Count Your Many Blessings,” and said he often receives letters by those who feel “burdened with a load of care.”
“Some are close to feeling that, at least for them, all is lost. I hope and pray that what I say about being grateful on the Sabbath will be helpful to make doubts fly and for singing to start in your hearts,” he said.
One blessing to be “counted” is the opportunity to attend sacrament meeting. “The fact that we are able to gather with even one other Saint and partake of the sacrament will help us begin to feel gratitude and love for God’s kindness,” he said.
Through the Prophet Joseph Smith comes the opportunity to take the sacrament each week — prepared, blessed and passed by authorized servants of God, President Eyring continued. “We can be grateful when the Holy Spirit confirms to us that the words of the sacrament prayers, offered by humble priesthood holders, are honored by our Heavenly Father.”
One of the greatest blessings, President Eyring said, is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as members partake of the sacrament. “We will feel greater love and appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite sacrifice made possible our being cleansed from sin. As we partake of the bread and water, we remember that He suffered for us. And when we feel gratitude for what He has done for us, we feel His love for us and our love for Him.”
The Sabbath is also a time to remember the baptismal covenant to love and serve God’s children. “That promise will include cheerfully fulfilling our callings,” President Eyring added, and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity he has had through the years to teach a deacons quorum in Utah, Sunday School in Idaho and to assist his wife in the nursery.
“It was years before I recognized through the Spirit that my simple service for the Lord mattered in the lives of Heavenly Father’s children.”
Individuals may not see the results of their service on the Sabbath, he said, “but the Lord is building His kingdom quietly through His faithful and humble shepherds, with little fanfare, toward its glorious millennial future. It takes the Holy Spirit to see the growing grandeur.”
President Eyring shared Doctrine and Covenants 78:17-19, which, he said, gives a prophetic description of the opportunities ahead: “Ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
“And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
“And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious.”
President Eyring noted that gratitude for blessings and a love of God “seems to accelerate among members of the Church in times and places where there are trials of their faith, where they have to plead to God for help to even carry on.”
President Eyring shared the example of the people of Alma who were burdened and put into bondage by Amulon. The Lord, however, strengthened them to “bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:12-15).
“You and I are witnesses that whenever we have kept our covenants with God, especially when it was hard, He has heard our prayers of thanks for what He has already done for us and has answered our prayer for strength to endure faithfully. More than once He has made us cheerful as well as strong,” President Eyring said.
For those who wonder how to live and worship on the Sabbath to demonstrate gratitude, President Eyring said, “You could begin today with a private and family prayer of thanks for all God has done for you. You could pray to know what the Lord would have you do to serve Him and others. Particularly, you could pray to have the Holy Ghost tell you of someone who is lonely or in need to whom the Lord would have you go.”
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