Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has asked people to set aside this Sunday, July 2, as a day for thanksgiving and prayer in response to a record-breaking year of snow in the mountains of Utah. 

We wholeheartedly endorse this as a most appropriate response to an undeniable and bountiful blessing. The life-giving results of excess precipitation are so astounding that ingratitude would be unthinkable. Add to it the lack of significant flooding as the record snowpack melted and the reasons for both cheering and prayerful thanks are magnified.

Two years ago, Cox asked state residents of all denominations and belief traditions to unite in prayer for more rain and snow. At the time, 97.9% of Utah was in at least a severe drought category, according to state experts, and 62.2% was in the exceptional drought category. 

That year, the spring runoff was absorbed by parched soils before reaching reservoirs. Some cities were in dire need of water. Some reservoirs were on the verge of going dry.

By asking for prayer, Cox was following a long American tradition, dating at least to Abraham Lincoln’s plea during the worst days of the Civil War. And yet critics were quick to pounce, especially on social media.

On Twitter, Cox responded that “even if you don’t believe, unifying our hearts for a common cause can help us all.”

Today, after a winter that left the deepest snowpack in history, drought.utah.gov reports that no part of Utah is in the “severe” drought category, while just 14% is considered “moderately dry.” More than a third of the state, 37%, is no longer experiencing any form of drought. The Great Salt Lake has risen about 5 feet.

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The website also is quick to note that Utahns should do their part to “look for ways to use our water supply efficiently and become more drought resilient.”

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Indeed, Utah remains an arid desert state, and drought conditions could return. There is much state lawmakers, the federal government and individuals can do to keep the Great Salt Lake from shrinking and to conserve precious water for all uses in the future. Divine blessings do not excuse people from doing their part to be wise stewards. But success also does not excuse people from continuing to acknowledge and seek divine help.

In his call for this Sunday, Cox said he believes “there’s nothing more powerful than people from all different faiths and backgrounds uniting together and expressing gratitude.”

The health effects of gratitude have been well-documented by studies nationwide. The Mayo Clinic has described these as being tied to general improvements in sleep, mood and immunity. “Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease,” its website says.

Even if this year had not yielded any snow, we believe it would have been important to give thanks to God for his many blessings. An attitude of gratitude helps to erase bitter feelings and harsh divisions as people acknowledge their mutual reliance on a higher power. It helps us look beyond ourselves.

The undeniable blessing of a record year, followed by that mild spring provides an excess of reasons to give thanks.

We urge everyone, regardless of faith tradition, to join the governor on Sunday in this important acknowledgement.