Over the summer the countries in our area were slowly reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic. This year has been difficult for many. We mourn with those who have lost dear family members and friends. Some have lost their job and others may still be at risk of doing so. There is a great need for our ministering, ensuring that the needs of everyone are met.
Whatever struggle we may find ourselves in, Heavenly Father is always mindful of us and knows the trials we are trying to overcome, however difficult they may be. The following lines of a well-known hymn come to mind:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done1
It is often through our trials that we are strengthened. Knowing this, however, may not be of much comfort right when we are in the deepest of struggles. President Russell M. Nelson asked us at this year’s April general conference: “How can we endure such trials?” He then continued: “The Lord has told us that ‘if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.’” 2 President Nelson also emphasized and invited us, as he so often does, to seek for and even promises us, “spiritual highlight(s)… as we express… our profound gratitude to God the Father and His Beloved Son.” 3 Even in our deepest trials, gratitude can be the key for us to overcome them.
Because of the Saviour, the means have been established for us to not just endure, but to overcome our trials, and we are promised that better times always lie ahead. The Saviour knows each of us personally by name, and He is there to help and assist us at all times, to eventually triumph. Of that, we can be completely assured. The day will come when we with deep gratitude can look back and see how richly we have been blessed, and how we have been led to what was right for us.
In her book “Lighten Up”, Sister Chieko N. Okazaki, refers to a story of two Dutch sisters, Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom, devout Christians who hid Jews in their home during World War II. They were captured and placed in a concentration camp, in an overfilled barrack crawling with fleas. Quoting from her Bible, which had not been confiscated, Betsie read: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances…”
Later as they prayed together, Betsie prayed: “Thank you for the fleas…” Corrie said: “There is no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.” “Give thanks in all circumstances,” Betsie quoted. “It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’” These two sisters were given more freedom in the barrack they were in, and they eventually found out why. The guards were not willing to enter their room because it was crawling with fleas. 4
Living with gratitude will necessarily include our deepest love and devotion to our Saviour and an abiding gratefulness for the covenant path towards eternal life which He has made possible for us. We may not always feel worthy to receive heavenly help, but the Saviour looks upon us, not just where we are now, but lovingly blesses us according to where He sees us in the eternal perspective. “Jesus Christ and His Atonement are the refuges that we all need, regardless of the storms that are battering our lives.” 5
I invite us all to live with gratitude and see how this will bring us closer to our Saviour Jesus Christ and help us to overcome life’s challenges.
1 Hymns 241
2 Doctrine and Covenants 38:30
3 Russell M. Nelson, Opening Message, April 2020 General Conference
4 Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place, Bantam Books, 1971, pp. 197-99 and 208-9
5 Finding Refuge from the Storms of Life, Elder Ricardo P. Giménez, April 2020 General Conference