“Behold, now it came to pass that the people of Nephi were exceedingly rejoiced, because the Lord had again delivered them out of the hands of their enemies; therefore they gave thanks unto the Lord their God; yea, and they did fast much and pray much, and they did worship God with exceedingly great joy.”
When I read that scripture a couple of weeks ago, I marveled at how the Nephites not only prayed in gratitude, but fasted as well. When in need, I have knelt in prayer and fasted many times. I have knelt in prayer in order to thank my Heavenly Father for the blessings He has sent. But I don’t think I have gone out of my way to give thanks with the same energy I have used to ask for something.
Later that day, I came across an Ensign article by Elder Merril J. Bateman. (May 1995) Elder Bateman referred to Luke 17: 12-19 – the story of healing the ten lepers. Christ met them as he entered a certain village “and they cried out ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’” Jesus told them to go to the priests, which they did, and they were healed. But only one came back to thank Jesus. Only one both recognized and acknowledged from where the gift came. The one that returned was a Samaritan. That is significance in that. “He fell down on his face at [Jesus’] feet, giving thanks…” Jesus responded by asking, “Were there not ten cleansed?” Then he told the Samaritan, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Elder Bateman pointed out that “in becoming a whole person, the grateful leper was healed inside as well as on the outside.” The other nine lepers were only healed skin deep. The one leper’s life was changed eternally because of his “faith in the Savior and the healing power of the Atonement.” He felt and expressed gratitude and was made whole.
The word “whole” stood out to me. I wondered how the idea of gratitude making us whole ties into the scriptures that admonish us to be perfect “even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The footnotes for “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 show that the alternate translation for “perfect” from the Greek is “complete, finished, fully developed.” Doctrine and Covenants 67:13 tells us, “Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” We can not achieve perfection in this life, meaning without faults or mistakes. Mistakes are unavoidable in this life. However, we do have the ability to prepare ourselves to return to our Father in Heaven through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, obedience and service. I think that an attitude of gratitude can and will help us make and keep these sacred covenants and indeed make us whole, both inside and out.