How Do You Give Thanks in All Things?
I have told people before that I am grateful for this trial. That statement is either received with looks of shock or awe. I do not intend to inspire either feeling, but to convey my understanding for the purpose of trials.
The year before Scott died, I wanted to be a better person. I was praying to be a better person, praying for more charity, for more empathy, for me to feel more love for others in my life. I was praying to feel for settled and at peace with my life, for a feeling of purpose and acceptance with God. I was trying to achieve those things to. Going through the motions of listening to more spiritual things, forcing myself to do more service, but I didn't feel that I was moving anywhere. Then my husband died.....
At first I thought, did I pray for this trial to happen? In time I have concluded that is not the way that God works; this trial was part of a master plan formed long before the words of those prayers. The desires in those prayers were simply the Spirit prompting me to prepare my heart for the things I needed to learn.
Looking back a year ago at my last Thanksgiving, I see a tremendous change in myself. Not just in the grief, because that was truly profound at that time, but in the person who existed before the accident.
I am not that same girl... and I am glad for that.
I am thankful that the girl who has replaced her is further along the road in obtaining those desires that I was praying for. I thankful that she is more in tune to the spirit and what the Lord wants her to do. I am thankful to be living each day with faith and hope in the Lord's plan for my life.
I would like to share some quotes and scriptures given by Dallin H Oaks in a conference talk back in 2003. Elder Oaks is well aquainted with trials, having lost his father at a young age and then later in life his wife. Elder Oaks watched his young widowed mother's example. This is what he said of her...
"Nevertheless, I often heard her say that the Lord consecrated that affliction for her gain because her husband’s death compelled her to develop her talents and serve and become something that she could never have become without that seeming tragedy. Our mother was a spiritual giant, strong and fully worthy of the loving tribute her three children inscribed on her headstone: “Her Faith Strengthened All.”
Last March I attended an LDS Widows/ Widowers conference in Utah where Elder Oak's older brother spoke of his mother. His words inspired me at the time to put myself back together and start to set a better example of faith. Elder Oaks went on in his talk to share some scriptures...
"The revelations, for which we are grateful, show that we should even give thanks for our afflictions because they turn our hearts to God and give us opportunities to prepare for what God would have us become. "
The Lord taught the prophet Moroni, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble,” and then promised that “if they humble themselves … and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
In the midst of the persecutions the Latter-day Saints were suffering in Missouri, the Lord gave a similar teaching and promise: “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;… and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (D&C 98:1, 3).
And to Joseph Smith in the afflictions of Liberty Jail, the Lord said, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).
Brigham Young understood. Said he, “There is not a single condition of life [or] one hour’s experience but what is beneficial to all those who make it their study, and aim to improve upon the experience they gain”If we truly understand the Lord’s teachings and promises, we will learn and grow from our adversities. We will let them change and refine us into better people. Instead of just persevering through our trials we will actively allow them to purify us.
"When we give thanks in all things, we see hardships and adversities in the context of the purpose of life. We are sent here to be tested. There must be opposition in things. We are meant to learn and grow through that opposition, through meeting our challenges, and through teaching others to do the same."
That process of teaching and helping others bring fulfillment and joy into our lives. We feel God's love more fully! We understand that our life here is not about acquiring things and self- gratification, but about acquiring the ability to unselfishly love and serve others.
So I am filled with gratitude for so many things. I feel to fall to my knees daily to thank that Lord for the many blessings that He has given me. I do not feel slighted; I feel blessed. I know that I will see my husband again, and that will be a glorious, wonderful reunion. I look forward to that day with hope, yet I remain committed to finish my work here while he is doing his there. I am committed to letting this trial and future trials shape me into the woman who will be able to fall at her Savior's feet and express her appreciate to Him who has given her everything.