And wholly bright to view,
If one small speck of dark appear
In their great heaven of blue:
And some with thankful love are filled,
If but one streak of light,
One ray of God's good mercy, gild
The darkness of their night.
(How Different, by Richard Chenevix Trench, quoted by Henry B. Eyring in "To Draw Closer to God.")
I've been thinking lately about how easy it is to get upset when things don't go our way. It's easy to expect everything to be perfect, and to forget our many blessings when even the smallest thing goes wrong. I remember being really frustrated a few years ago, and praying about which major I should choose. Amidst all this frustration, I caught myself and chuckled--here I was, at a world-class institution, with a good mind and a supportive family and a thousand opportunities to learn and improve and study under experts in almost any field I could want--and I was complaining about it, because I had too many wonderful opportunities to choose between! How ridiculous!
Our culture today is one of entitlement instead of empowerment, of rights rather than responsibilities. Maybe that's why the scriptures repeatedly stress the importance of remembering our blessings and showing gratitude for what we've received. The Lord tells us one of the ways to keep ourselves unspotted from the world is to "thank the Lord thy God in all things" (Doc. & Cov. 59:7). Maybe that's because thankfulness is so antithetical to the world we live in that it provides an effective shield against worldliness.
"I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice...I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants" (Mosiah 2:20-21).