ST. GEORGE — In a video released online Friday, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called on members to turn their social media accounts into “gratitude journals” over the next week and share messages of gratitude as a way to help heal the strife and uncertainly being experienced due to the pandemic and societal unrest.
Russell M. Nelson, the 96-year-old president of the LDS church, and a former heart surgeon, said in the 11-minute video that, “as a man of science and as a man of faith, the current worldwide pandemic has been of great concern to me.”
However, the pandemic is only one of many ills currently plaguing the world, Nelson said, which he said includes racism, hate, violence, civil unrest and lack of civility.
While research is being done to develop a vaccine to combat COVID-19, medical practices can’t fix “spiritual woes and maladies,” he said.
“There is, however, a remedy — one that may seem surprising — because it flies in the face of our natural intuitions,” Nelson said. “Nevertheless, its effects have been validated by scientists as well as men and women of faith. I am referring to the healing power of gratitude.”
Nelson went on to give examples of what others can express gratitude for, such as the world around them, their families, opportunities for spiritual and academic learning, the arts, and the trials that shape them and give them experience.
See excerpts of Nelson’s “The Healing Power of Gratitude” message in the media player at the top of this report.
“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,” Nelson said.
As Latter-day Saints take to social media over the coming week, Nelson asked them to post every day about what they are grateful for and why they are grateful and to use the #GiveThanks hashtag with each post.
“At the end of seven days, see if you feel happier and more at peace,” Nelson said. “Working together, we can flood social media with a wave of gratitude that reaches the four corners of the Earth.”
Along with sharing daily posts about gratitude, Nelson also encouraged church members to pray daily for gratitude and inspiration.
While encouraging Latter-day Saints to share a sense of gratitude, Nelson noted it won’t help spare people of sorrow and pain.
“Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief and pain? No, but it does soothe our feelings,” he said. “It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.”
Nelson shared the sorrow he felt following the death of this wife, Dantzel Nelson, nearly 16 years ago. He also mentioned losing two of his daughters to cancer. Despite the difficulty these experiences brought him, Nelson said he was “incredibly, eternally grateful for so very many things.”
He expressed thanks for the many decades he had with his wife and the years he had with his daughters and the memories he has of them. He said he is also grateful for his current wife, Wendy, whom he after his first wife’s death.
“Over my nine and a half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems,” Nelson said. “No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription.”
As the president of the LDS church, Nelson is seen as a prophet by the 16 million-plus members of the faith and is considered God’s mortal mouthpiece in the modern age.
In a closing prayer following his recorded message Friday, Nelson asked the Almighty to bless the world with unity.
“We thank Thee for the leaders of nations and others who strive to lift us. We pray for relief from political strife,” he said. “Wilt Thou bless us with a healing spirit that unites us despite our differences.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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