Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
On a day when most of America will overeat and overindulge, I just wanted to share a few thoughts as we sit down with family and friends on a day set aside to be thankful. God has given me quite an education about what thankfulness truly means.
Today, there is a husband who, in his grief, is thankful for death. There is a homeless mother of two children who is grateful for a shelter providing a warm place to rest and a meal to feed her children. There is a family looking upon the wreckage of a home tore apart by an addicted Daddy who, when he is sober, is apologetic, kind and lucid. As they emerge from their hiding places, they are thankful the storm is over and pray to God that He would save their Daddy.
The idyllic pictures of a table bountifully prepared for a Thanksgiving feast does not represent all of America, nor does it speak to the world’s poverty. Jesus said:
John 12:8 “For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”
Having stood behind a counter to ladle food onto plates for the homeless to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, I saw folks so genuinely grateful and thankful for the meal they received. I became so overwhelmed, it caused me to steal away to confess my ingratitude, neglect and arrogant selfishness.
There have been opportunities to preach to those at our local rescue mission. There, we saw true tears of repentance. From doctors to veterans; to those who lost a fortune to those who lost jobs, homes and family. As we sang, prayed and preached, the Spirit of God moved in those services to the saving of souls, comforting of hearts and healing began in those long wounded needing help.
To center our thoughts on just how God has provided; how He has blessed and how He has daily loaded us with benefits, should not just be set aside for one day. God shows us:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Holidays are hardest for those of us who have lost loved ones. Their absence pricks our hearts and our minds to times of friends, family and fellowship. We reminisce of their special ways they touched our hearts and our lives. It is a bittersweet memory. And if it were not for the Word of God and His marvelous salvation, it would be quite unbearable.
Last night, my Dad just lost his wife as she succumbed to the ravages of ALS. As I sat with him, he relayed how relieved he was that she had finally found peace and the relief from pain, the inability to speak and communicate and much of what the disease had taken from her.
My Dad is well acquainted with grief. You see his previous wife has passed away from cancer that was in remission that had came back with a vengeance. We lost my Mom when she contracted strep pneumonia and a grand mall seizure took what was left at the young age of 62.
You see, not all feel thankful this holiday. Not all see the abundance of blessing. Not all indulge and not all can look to God and genuinely thank Him for all things.
Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”
This Thanksgiving, before you dive into the turkey; before you lift a fork to your mouth; I would pray we who name the name of Christ would truly give thanks for those things that truly matter. Those whose lives have enriched ours; those who have invested much into who we are today.
Whether with us or not, may we look to God and truly thank Him for them this holiday. And if they are still with us, do not hesitate one second more; call, Facetime, Skype, email or visit that precious one. For we can never know when the breath they take may be their last.
My dear reader, I do not apologize for the somber tone of this devotion today. It took some stark realities for me to be educated in the ways of thankfulness. My prayer is that we would stop the routine, stop the fun and fellowship for just a moment, to truly say a word of thanks to those who are still with us. And if they are missing from us, share a precious memory that remembers them in a special way.
Lastly, never forget to look toward Heaven and say out loud, “Thank you God for ALL the things you have given us! Not just this holiday, but every day and for all things!