The Song of the Sea: Gratitude Builds Faith

Many times in the Book of Mormon, people offer thanks and praise to God after receiving a blessing. For example:

  • The family of Lehi “did rejoice exceedingly” and offered sacrifice to God when the sons returned safely from Jerusalem with the brass plates (1 Nephi 5:9-10). They did the same after the sons returned with the family of Ishmael (1 Nephi 7:22).
  • After a successful fourteen-year mission to the Lamanites, Ammon offered words of gratitude: “Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name” (Alma 26:8).
  • Twenty one years after the birth of Christ, the Nephites won a hard-fought multi-year war against the Gadianton robbers. When the war was finally over, “they did break forth, all as one, in singing, and praising their God for the great thing which he had done for them, in preserving them from falling into the hands of their enemies” (3 Nephi 4:31).
  • Many years earlier, as the Jaredites traveled across the sea in barges, “they did sing praises to the Lord…all the day long” (Ether 6:9). When they arrived in the promised land, “they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them” (Ether 6:12).

After the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was destroyed, they sang a song of praise and gratitude which is called the Song of the Sea (Shirat Hayam) in Jewish prayer books. In the song, they marvel at the miraculous deliverance they have just experienced, and they attribute the miracle to God: “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy” (Exodus 15:6). But the song is not only backward-looking:

Thou shalt bring [the people] in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.

Exodus 15:17

Like Lehi in the wilderness, and like the Jaredites in their barges, the Israelites had not yet arrived at their destination. But their recognition of the miracles they had already experienced strengthened their faith that more miracles would follow.

So one benefit of gratitude is that it gives us hope for the future, empowering us to exercise faith and move forward. As Nephi said to his brothers: “If the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” (1 Nephi 17:51). And as Howard W. Hunter reassured an audience of young adults, “He will bless us as a people because he always has blessed us as a people. He will bless us as individuals because he always has blessed us as individuals” (“An Anchor to the Souls of Men,” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 7 February 1993).

President Russell M. Nelson said, “Few things will accelerate your spiritual momentum more than realizing the Lord is helping you to move a mountain in your life” (“The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” General Conference, April 2022).

Today, I will express gratitude to God for specific blessings I have received from Him. I will also express hope and confidence that His miracles will continue in my life and in the lives of the people I love.

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