Here we are, less than a week now from a truly American tradition, Thanksgiving. As I contemplated it, I pondered my personal memories from Thanksgiving past and realized that the transformation from what it once was in our country and even in my life is much different than it is now.
In its inception, unofficially, I well remember the significance of it as portrayed in grade school where the early Pilgrim fathers celebrated getting through the harsh New England winter and gave thanks with their Indian friends named Squanto and Massasoit and others. I remembered Abraham Lincoln focusing on that distinctive event during the Civil War and later the official proclamation of it by President Roosevelt. In stores, one could always find little wax turkeys and all sorts of decor which were especially neat for a little kid.
I remember, too, the many relatives I shared Thanksgiving with, with wonderful dinners and the most scrumptious food anyone could want. Unfortunately, most of those relatives are gone, certainly my grandparents and uncles and aunts and my dad. My own mom could bake some fantastic things especially her wonderful pumpkin and pecan pies. I remember, too, the opportunity to go to Thanksgiving services in the community which like so much else are gone by the wayside.
Yes, Thanksgiving today is much different than what it once was. Oh sure, there are the official pardons of the Thanksgiving turkey and the Macy’s parade. Football is still on the TV and travel is intense. I also remember many friends that have passed that I once spent the day with after we were with our families, playing basketball or football. Boy oh boy, how I would love to go back to those innocent years and see all the folks I knew and celebrate like I once did.
But, alas, I cannot.
It almost seems in our culture that Halloween is the big event and that all Thanksgiving is relegated to be the day before Black Friday. And maybe that says it all. Have we gotten so ensnared by getting things and buying things and satiating ourselves with all our wants that too often we miss out on all the treasures we already have in people, shared times together and all the things God has already blessed us with in this nation and in our lives?
There is not a church in this country that should not be near full at Thanksgiving and there is not a family table that should not have a prayer of gratefulness for God’s goodness to us. Included in that should be a gratefulness that despite all we experience, that God is faithful and that we live in a wonderful God blessed nation.
Thanksgiving should affect us every day of the year and should translate into how we live, what we say, how we work and how we play. Thanksgiving is about, in reality, more than a day, but a lifestyle. It should be seen in our lives by a spirit of gratefulness and service and in joy. It should reflect in our lives a confidence that we can count on the Lord and that the faith of our fathers is our faith as well.
One of the wonderful characteristics of the Bible is that God really expects our thankfulness. In the Old Testament, God delivered His people from bondage in Egypt and took them to the Promised Land. But their journey took far too long because despite all God did for them, they lost sight of their blessings and took to grumbling and ungratefulness.
It resulted in nothing but chaos. In the New Testament, Jesus warned about the laborers, some of whom were very grateful and others who were not at all. Yes, the Word has much to say about a thankful spirit and a thankful nation.
Psalm 100 is a short Psalm but how well it shows where we all need to be. Make a joyful noise before the Lord, serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God. It is He who made us and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His holy name. For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations. Amen.
There are so many great truths in nature and one I think involves evergreens of which we have an abundance of here in our area of the state. An evergreen is always green despite the changes in weather around it. It is green in the heat of the summer as well as the cold of the winter. So, too, do our lives need to be characterized by an enduring thankfulness that is also unaffected by the changes around us.
When the heat of a pressured week or a deadly cold of pain strikes us, we should stand like those trees, ever green, always thankful, regardless of what surrounds us. God is good and every good and perfect gift is from Him.
Too often we lose sight of that and our nation does as well. We may not be able to change that decline in our culture but we can arrest it in our lives and in our families when we maintain the spirit of thankfulness in our lives. There is no better time to reboot it then this time of year with Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Every day, take the old Biblical admonition and arise and say as the Psalmist, this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. A day with thanksgiving to God for all He does for us is the best antidote for despair and negativity in our lives and in our society. Be thankful, you have much to be thankful for.