(RNS) — Expect the Latter-day Saints in your life to use the next week to count their blessings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. That includes me.
In a brief video message today, President Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledged some of the very difficult circumstances many people are going through right now, such as the COVID pandemic and political divisions, but encouraged followers (and anyone who wishes to participate) to call upon “the healing power of gratitude” as a spiritual antidote.
He asked anyone watching to “turn social media into your own personal gratitude journal. Post every day about what you are grateful for, who you are grateful for, and why you are grateful. At the end of seven days, see if you feel happier and more at peace. Use the hashtag #GiveThanks. Working together, we can flood social media with a wave of gratitude that reaches the four corners of the earth.”
He also called on people to express gratitude in prayer, which Jesus did, even before approaching God to ask about our needs.
“No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription,” he said, drawing on his decades as a cardiothoracic surgeon in prescribing medicine for his patients.
He was careful to say that gratitude doesn’t protect people from sorrow or pain, but it does provide a better perspective on the purpose and joy of life.
“Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems,” he said.
At age 96, Pres. Nelson has known both grief and joy, and his short video message depicted some of both: the joy of nearly 60 years of marriage to his first wife Dantzel, and the grief of losing her suddenly one night when they were holding hands and watching television. The joy of the ten children they had together, and the pain of losing two of those children to cancer.
“No parent is prepared to lose a child, and yet . . . I am incredibly grateful, eternally, for so very many things,” he said, including meeting his second wife, Wendy, and the many grandchildren and great-grandchildren that have blessed their family.
He also provided a kind of starter kit of ideas to get people thinking about ways we can count our blessings. Highlights include giving thanks for . . .
- For the beauty of the earth and “the majesties of the heaven,” which point to “the vastness of eternity.”
- For the gift of life, and for “our amazing bodies and minds that allow us to grow and learn.”
- For “art, literature, and music that nurture our souls.”
- For the “opportunity to repent, start over, make amends, and build character.”
- For families, friends, and loved ones.
- For “the opportunity to help, cherish, and serve one another, which makes life so much more meaningful.”
- For our trials, “from which we learn the things we would not know otherwise.”
- “Most of all, we can give thanks unto God, the father of our spirits, Which makes us all brothers and sisters, one great global family.”
Pres. Nelson ended the brief message by bowing his own head in prayer, with the camera close-in, and speaking humbly to God. He prayed “for the world and everyone in it,” and invited us to do the same, petitioning God to heal our hearts, our families, our societies and the world at large.
On a personal note, I’ll be expressing my gratitude every day on my personal Facebook page, starting tomorrow, and will be sure to make those posts public for the next week.
I don’t always agree with the leaders of my church, especially on political issues, as regular readers of this column probably know. But I am in full and wholehearted agreement that the world needs more gratitude, and more emphasis on remembering the blessings God has given. I loved today’s message and gave an enthusiastic amen.