A Thankful Spirit
Our nation, thankfully, has set aside a day to help us remember to be thankful. The thoughtfulness of our forefathers instilled in us a need for a thankful spirit as they looked forward to a time when people might forget the richness of what has been given us. When times were more difficult and our country was emerging as a “new land,” people felt more thankful. People by the hundreds and then the thousands began pouring into this “new world” to escape the restrictiveness of their mother countries. They came here because they felt they could prosper and that life would have a richness, even if they remained poor, as many did.
This “new world” offered opportunities and room to grow. Those coming here met new challenges. Some were deadly and some were challenging, but it was something alive and fluid, not static and mundane. There was an excitement about living here in this “new world” that gave those who were pouring into it a new sense of life and adventure. It was hard living at first. It was difficult to say the least. These pilgrims, as they were called, began their pilgrimage in heartache and excitement, leaving behind family ties, their family heritage and almost all of their possessions, even as meager as some of them might have been. They brought what they could to this “new world” and established a life replicating much of what they had known and expanding into what they would come to know. Because of all the cross cultures, people began to take on the ways and ideas of folks from other parts of the world and our nation became a blend.
As this nation grew, it was important to never forget her meager beginnings. It was important to remember those who had forged the way, making peace with the native people who had lived on this soil for generations. And above all, it was important to remember the prosperity of the land which allowed them to live a life worth living. Thanksgiving is almost always represented by icons of pilgrim hats and shoes, turkeys, corn and gatherings. Personally, I hope these images never go away.
Many will use the holiday of Thanksgiving Day as an opportunity to have a paid day off. Many will gobble down their food and never think twice about those who went before us and how God opened the way to a “new world.” But, many will reflect. Many will think about family and spend time together in appreciation of that freedom and count it a blessing. Many will remember their history and remember when the days were more difficult. Some will think of what it must have been like for people to leave their homes, thousands of miles away, never to see or hear from their families again. Some will look at their cell phone, pick it up and call someone who is important to them and be thankful for the opportunity to communicate. And above all, many will thank God for all the blessings we enjoy daily, knowing that all of it is possible because of Him.
God has never asked for anything less than a thankful spirit. With God it is not about turkeys and pilgrims, but about the fact that He is our provider and our protector. It is He who rules the universe, holding the stars in place and giving the moon its glow. It is he who causes the sunshine and rain and allows it to fall upon the just and the unjust. It is God who controls the affairs of this world, who puts up kings and takes down kings. It is God who keeps the balance in an evil world bringing judgements among evil men, even in the very presence of the elect, keeping evil from running its rampage over the entire world. It is He who has a following on this earth whom He, Himself calls His Elect, those saved through faith in the blood atonement of the very Son He gave to rescue us. It is He who promises protection to those whom He has chosen, the Elect, even if it sometimes means death. In His promises, we can rest safely knowing that even if we die, we shall still live. So, whether we live or die, we are safe with God. He does not promise us a life without pain and disappointment. But, He does promise us an afterlife like that.
While others live this life to get all they can out of it, God’s elect can rest in the promise of something greater… something that transcends this life. Millions have gone before us and are now enjoying life in His very presence, awaiting the final day when the great resurrection will take place and all of the elect will be together. They are now living in that “New World” where all things will be made new.
And do you know what? If I cannot be thankful over the simpler things like what it took to establish this “new world” in which we live, how on earth could I ever be thankful for the “New World” which is yet before us? It just may be that in those days long ago, when those ships hit the shore of this “new world,” that God was only allowing a practice session for what is still to come. If that is true, perhaps I had better be working on being thankful for what is around me so I will better know how to be thankful for what He “Has Done, Is Doing and Will Do” in me.