Kind acts warrant expressions of gratitude

Cheer your spirit

Broaden your friendships

Lift your lives

The New Testament story of the one leprous man out of ten who returned to thank Jesus for cleansing them of the disease (2 Cor. 9:15) provided the introduction to the conference message delivered by President Thomas S. Monson Saturday morning.

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, cited biblical passages in which various individuals offered thanks to the Lord. He then asked, "Do we give thanks to God `for his unspeakable gift' and His rich blessings so abundantly bestowed upon us?"

President Monson quoted Robert W. Woodruff, a prominent businessman who, while lecturing on the topic "A Capsule Course in Human Relations," said that the two most important words in the English language are "Thank you."

Whatever language is spoken, President Monson said, those words, frequently expressed, "will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection."

President Monson related a story reported in a newspaper some years ago in which an 11-year-old boy wanted to purchase a bicycle at a police auction, but had only one dollar, which he bid on each bicycle being sold. Eventually, the auctioneer took eight dollars from his own pocket and added it to the boy's dollar in order for the boy to purchase a bicycle. The boy turned to leave with his new possession, but went only a few feet before he returned and gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer's neck and cried.

"When was the last time we felt gratitude as deeply as did this boy?" President Monson asked. "The deeds others perform in our behalf might not be as poignant, but certainly there are kind acts that warrant our expressions of gratitude."

President Monson mentioned three instances in which a sincere "thank you" could "lift a heavy heart, inspire a good deed, and bring heaven's blessings closer to the challenges of our day."

"First, may I ask that we express thanks to our parents for life, for caring, for sacrificing, for laboring to provide a knowledge of our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness.

"Next, have we thought on occasion of a certain teacher at school or at church who seemed to quicken our desire to learn, who instilled in us a commitment to live with honor?"

He spoke of a group of men who had been talking about people who had affected their lives for good and for whom they were grateful. One man decided to write to a high school teacher, then in her 80s, and thank her for her influence in his life. She wrote back, expressing gratitude for the note and saying that she had taught school for 50 years and his was the first note of appreciation she had received.

President Monson said, "We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to all of those, past and present, who have given so much of themselves, that we might have so much for ourselves."

"Third, I mention an expression of `thank you' to one's peers."

He told of students at Murray High School in the Salt Lake Valley who elected two young women with disabilities to serve as homecoming royalty. President Monson read from a Deseret News article about how Shellie Eyre, who has Down syndrome, was elected as homecoming queen. April Perschon, one of her attendants, has physical and mental disabilities resulting from a brain hemorrhage suffered when she was 10. President Monson described the cheers, applause and standing ovations offered by the audience as the candidates were introduced.

"When the ovations had ceased, the school vice principal Glo Merrill said, `Tonight . . . the students voted on inner beauty.' . . . Obviously moved, parents, school administrators and students wept openly."

President Monson said, "I extend a heartfelt `thank you' to one and all who made this night one ever to be remembered."

He then spoke of a tragedy that occurred in Salt Lake County this past August, in which five little girls died from heat exhaustion after they climbed into the trunk of a car and pulled shut the lid.

At the funeral service for the "five little angels," he said that he gave this counsel: "There is one phrase which should be erased from your thinking and from the words you speak aloud. It is the phrase, If only.' It is counterproductive and is not conducive to the spirit of healing and of peace. Rather, recall the words of Proverbs:Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.' " (Prov. 3:5-6.)

President Monson said that before the caskets were closed, he noticed that each child held a favorite toy to cuddle. He said that he reflected on the words of Eugene Field's "Little Boy Blue," a poem about a little boy who died. The poem speaks of "The little toy dog . . . and the soldier passing fair" who were "Awaiting the touch of a little hand, The smile of a little face; And they wonder, as waiting the long years through In the dust of that little chair, What has become of our Little Boy Blue Since he kissed them and put them there."

President Monson added, "The little toy dog and soldier fair may wonder, but God in His infinite mercy has not left grieving loved ones to wonder. He has provided truth. He will inspire an upward reach, and His outstretched arms will embrace you. Jesus promises to one and all who grieve, `I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.' (John 14:18.)

"There is only one source of true peace. I am certain that the Lord, who notes the fall of a sparrow, looks with compassion upon those who have been called upon to part - even temporarily - from their precious children. The gifts of healing and of peace are desperately needed, and Jesus, through His atonement, has provided them for one and all."

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