God is a lawful being. There are absolute causes and effects in his law-governed Universe, and as we learn about and abide his laws, we can expect to enjoy the blessings connected to them.
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10)
It was a profound moment for me when I stopped to realize that there’s a reason, a very specific reason for doing every good thing we’ve been taught to do.
“Be grateful” is not just a band-aid to distract you from pain. It is a law, connected to a blessing.
While you may be wondering if it’s even possible to feel grateful for everything, consider this:
Feeling good about your problems activates certain laws of success for happier outcomes. (And who doesn’t want happier outcomes?)
As I’ve said before, when you change how you feel, the nature of your surroundings begins to shift ever so slightly.
Because people can feel your emotions (even if only subconsciously), they respond to you differently when you change the way you feel. The customer service representative deals with you a little more kindly. The other driver lets you merge. The professor is a little more forgiving about your assignment.
“Let a man cease from his sinful thoughts, and all the world will soften toward him, and be ready to help him. Let him put away his weakly and sickly thoughts, and lo! opportunities will spring up on every hand to aid his strong resolves. Let him encourage good thoughts, and no hard fate shall bind him down to wretchedness and shame.” (James Allen, As a Man Thinketh)
Okay, all that’s fine and dandy—just change your thoughts and feelings and everything will go better. But I’m telling you what, it can be nearly impossible sometimes to even want to feel differently about things. I get it. I’ve been there, maybe even more than I haven’t been there.
But it’s okay. Sometimes we really DO need to give ourselves permission to just feel the full scope of sadness, disappointment or even anger that our situation warrants.
But here’s the trick:
Only go there with the plan to let it be temporary. The Law of Rhythm dictates that there must be ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and even sadness FOLLOWED BY HAPPINESS. But you don’t have to fake the shift, and you don’t have to force it. It WILL COME as a gift; your job is to simply hope for it, and allow it to happen. Don’t fight it when it tries to find you.
(Have you noticed? I think it may be trying to find you now…)
So allow yourself to be sad until you’ve felt it completely, but always maintain a hope and expectation that happiness will again eventually follow.
It happens after a change in perspective. You can help it along by first acknowledging the difficult place you’re in, but then as quickly as you’re able, be grateful for it. Lift your eyes and heart upward with hope—relying on the many promises you’ve been given, that your hope is indeed justified. No matter how ugly it is, be grateful.
Here’s the law:
- This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24)
- In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
- And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17)
- And let the peace of God rule in your hearts … and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
- O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever. (Psalms 107:1)
- Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing…. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. (Psalms 100:1-5)
- Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20)
- We accept [it] always, and in all places …with all thankfulness. (Acts 24:3)
Here’s the promise:
- For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life:
- Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
- Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven… (Matthew 5:3-12)
- All things work together for good to them that love God, (Romans 8:28)
Do you see the Laws of Polarity and Rhythm depicted here? You are PROMISED comfort when you are sad. You are PROMISED resolution when there is difficulty. You are PROMISED a reward when there is injustice. You are promised ALL things will work together for your good if you love God.
How long you stay in pain may depend on how long you think only about the pain.
I’m convinced that God’s servants included so many hopeful verses to get us THINKING hopeful thoughts when we are in our pits of despair. Because, by the Laws of Perpetual Transmutation and Vibration, that is how we begin to move toward the happier half of the equation.
So let’s explore this. How can you feel good about all the bad stuff you’re dealing with?
It begins with choosing to believe in something that can’t be seen. Choosing to believe that something better is already on its way. Choosing to imagine that something more favorable is already in the works.
“…therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen…” (Alma 32:21)
The Law of Polarity promises a potential blessing to compensate for every hardship. When you start looking for the promised benefit contained in your adversity, you no longer remain the limiting factor in what the positive outcome can be.
Without the glance to Moses’ staff, without the pause to remember the promises in the Beatitudes, without a shift in focus, the natural laws by which God governs can only be expected to bring more of the same unhappiness. Change begins when WE change.
Hope is the answer. At least it’s the beginning. So if you are suffering, take a moment to remember God’s promises. Rehearse them in your mind. Speak them out loud. Allow yourself to hope that they are true, and begin looking for evidence that they are already in effect with you, right now.
When you choose gratitude and trust in the Lord even (especially) during a hardship, you are promised a better outcome—in fact, the best there is to have.
Part of the requirement is to let go of the outcome. Let go of how you want things to be (even if only for a moment), and be grateful now, just as things are. TRUST that if you do this, the best possible outcome WILL be realized, even if you don’t know what that is, and even if you’re not sure it will be good enough to make the pain or disappointment worth it. You must TRUST that it very much WILL be worth it.
The Law of Polarity also promises that if something is just a little bit bad, then the hidden benefit is only just a little bit good. They are equal and opposite. So if you’re dealing with something catastrophic, the promised potential benefit is equally phenomenal. This is why the most unfortunate person in the room is, in reality, the luckiest of them all, for the potential benefit they will realize if they learn to think lawfully about it.
So look forward with hope to whatever that blessing may be. Expect it. Be grateful for it, even before it is yours.
I’ve learned (although sometimes I forget) that if I experience a terrible blow or disappointment, the sooner I get on my knees and thank God for the awful thing I’m experiencing, the sooner it passes. In those times, my prayers often sound like this:
“Dear Father in Heaven, -sigh- thank you for this challenge. I don’t know how it is good for me, or why I must endure it, but thank you for it. I’m sure there’s a good reason, and I look forward to discovering what it is. Thank you for giving me a bad day (week, month, year…) if for no other reason but that I will know a good one when I have one. Help me through this. Help me find the hidden blessing in it. (Then I pause to really feel what I’m saying, and I try to imagine how he sees me in that moment. I imagine him feeling proud of me for choosing gratitude in spite of the circumstances. Then I close my prayer…) In Jesus’ name, amen.”
When I do this with sincerity, I absolutely feel a shift every time, and I know that the future outcome just changed for the better. I know it. And it has yet to fail me. I’ve been able to look back every time and see why my gratitude was not in vain.
Example: How a bad experience can be good
I think of the story shared by Corrie Ten Boom who suffered many difficulties in the German Concentration Camps. At one time, she and her sister argued about whether they must really express gratitude to God for even the fleas that infested their quarters. They were women of faith, but this was a tough thing to do. As it turned out, many of the other prisoners were regularly troubled by the guards, but Corrie and her sister were left alone—because of those horrible fleas.
As Napoleon Hill so eloquently stated, “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” So yes, we can be grateful for even the fleas, and even the hardships we face today. In truth, all things can work out for our good if we expect them to, looking forward to the understanding that will eventually come, and allowing the good to emerge through the tragedy like a gleaming sunrise after the coldest, darkest night. Remember, it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
As M. Catherine Thomas said in her book, Light in the Wilderness, “…if you wish to feel the most penetrating power of the Spirit, try the experiment of giving thanks in the moment of disappointment, of tragedy, of the specter of ruin. When you are able to do it consistently, you will feel as though you have discovered and united with the mystery of life.”
To learn more about the Laws, read Hidden Treasures. (FREE!)
And please, share this article with someone who needs an uplift today. Originally published April 6, 2012.