Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
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 is 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 prayer, I think it is in our lack of the expressions of thanks giving for daily blessings.
Ezra Taft Benson
Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances
Debra Oaks Coe (c) all rights reserved
|When my husband and I had been married only two years, our home teacher
brought a Thanksgiving message that gave me a new perspective on giving thanks. He
had been reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. This is an outstanding book
about two sisters, who were true Christians, and how they really learned to rely on their
Heavenly Father. It was their Bible and doing their best to live the teachings
contained in it that helped them through some of the worst of human conditions.
Corrie and her sister were prisoners in a concentration camp with wrenched conditions. they had already survived so much, but the conditions of the final barracks were well beyond what they thought they could bare -- including a thick infestation of fleas in the straw they were to sleep on. Corrie turned to her sister and cried, "Betsie, how can we live in such a place!" Immediately Betsie began to pray and soon the answer cam to her. They had read it in the Bible just that morning "Give thanks in all circumstances." Betsie was sure this was the answer. Corrie recounted the scene as follows:
Because they began from that moment on the to thank instead complain, they had positive attitudes and became a very positive influence on the others in their barracks. As their world grew blacker with evil outside the barracks, their world inside (even with the fleas) became brighter until it became as a literal Heaven on earth despite the conditions. What made the difference? They read the Bible, no just to themselves, but to those around them; soon all gathered at the end of everyday to hear the word of God. Even more important they all tried to apply the teachings as they looked for light in a black world. Many came unto Christ as a result. The women in the barracks quit being rude and mean to each other and replaced it with love and kindness.
Normally these barracks had surprise inspections where their precious Bible that brought so much light and strength would normally have been seized. Miraculously, they never had such inspections. Much later they found out it was because their barracks were so flea infested that the guards dared not inter. The fleas allowed them to have God's Word for their strength and their hope. Upon learning this, Corrie very humbly knelt and truly thanked God for the fleas!
We should also give thanks in all circumstances! As with Corrie's, we may learn that the very "fleas" that we saw as only a plague to our lives are the very things that allow God to bless us with the things we need most.
Gratitude is more than just being grateful for the good things in life. It is an attitude of happiness and making the best of all circumstances. Life will always be a series of adventures in applying gospel principles, especially that of loving and forgiving all.
Debra Oaks Coe (c) all rights reserved
A few years ago, at Thanksgiving time and we were teaching our children about the pilgrims. As part of this, I read them a biography about Squanto's life. I learned a few things I had never known. When he was about twelve he was taken to England; it is not sure whether this was by force or if he merely agree to go after having been enticed. In any case, Squanto stayed in England for nearly ten years. There he was put on display in a London museum because most people had never seen an Indian before. In general though, people were good to him and he learned to speak English and learned to enjoy many of their customs, and food.
Finally he learned that two ships were sailing together to explore the part of America he was from. Anxious to see his family he sailed on the ship of Captain John Smith who had started the colony of Virginia. I can only imagine his excitement and anticipation.
When the ship landed, he set off on foot toward the area of his tribe. But his dream of seeing his family came to an abrupt halt as he was suddenly taken captive by Captain Thomas Hunt, the captain of the other ship. He was tied up and put in a dark room below deck to be taken to Spain and sold as a slave. Over the next several days, many Indians were kidnapped and put with Squanto. Never again would the tribes of these Indians trust white man as a seed of hatred was planted by the kidnappings.
In Spain, two monks helped Squanto escape and get on a ship to London where he hoped to find someone he knew that might be of help him. Once in London, he went to the house of his friend only to find that the family had moved. Alone, hungry, and without money he went to another house to beg for food. At this house, the man recognized him from when he had been on display at the museum. John Slanie took him in as one of his servants and Squanto stayed with this family for more than three years while he waited and hoped to find a ship to take him back to America.
Finally he met a man named Mr. Dermer who was sailing to New England to explore the area. He agreed to take Squanto with him. This time when he returned to his native land and approached the area where is tribe had been, he found it deserted; the path overgrown with weeds. I imagine he wondered, "Why me?."
It turned out that only two years earlier, a great sickness had killed the entire Patuxets tribe. If he had been there instead of taken back to Europe, he too would have died.
It was only four months later that the pilgrims landed in America and found a very choice place to begin building their new homes. As it turned out, this choice place was there for them because it was the same place Squanto's tribe had been. It was now considered a cursed land because of all the deaths and none of the other Indian tribes wanted it and did not care to fight them for the land. Because of the way the white men had treated the Patuxet, for example the kidnappings, these Indians hated the white men and if this tribe had still been there, they may have killed the Pilgrims.
Instead, only Squanto was left. What a great help and friend he was! Without him, the Pilgrims may not have survived. He was more than willing to help them and even lived with them where he was always available to help. He helped them communicate with the other tribes, which undoubtedly helped to keep peace, taught them to fish, how to grow food in this new country and taught them to cook the many new and strange foods, etc.
Every time I hear this story, I realize what an incredible blessing and surprise the Pilgrims must have had to see this Indian come out of what to them was a vast wilderness and find that he knew and understood both their language and their customs and that he was so willing to help them to learn to live in a totally different environment.
I can only believe that all this was through the hand of God. I doubt Squanto had any idea that his whole life was a great preparation for this great role he would play in the beginning of a new nation; a nation where freedom of religion would be established. It reminds me that many of the experiences of this life may well be for the benefit of others. I should give thanks for what I have and appreciate opportunities to grow, learn and help others. After all, while still on this earth, Squanto never knew the full importance of what he did.
Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789
President George Washington
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of
Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His
protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee
requested me to "recommend to the People of the United States a day of public
thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many
single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to
establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
The Landing of the
The Mayflower Compact
The First Thanksgiving Proclamation
The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being perswaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and soulds as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ."
in American History