Happy Thanksgiving!

     Most of us will have celebrated Thanksgiving by the time we receive this little essay. As for me I will be contemplating the not so little problem of the four or five pounds I added on to my aged body. The plan (and it is only a plan and we all know what can happen to our plans) is to remove those additional pounds by Christmas time. Now let us all smile our knowing smiles and say together, “Fat chance.” Ha!

     All that aside, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American and very happy time of the year. For the last few years Ginger and I have experienced what many of you have for a long time and that is separation by miles and time from part of our family. Tom and his wife Anne live in Ohio so the holidays give us an opportunity to be together and have a great time. I know that family is the primary positive thing about the holidays for us as it is for most everybody.

     Now, preachers are always talking about being thankful, reason being that the attitude of thankfulness is an important component of the life lived before God. As the Psalmist said, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5 KJV).

     Psalm 100 reminds us that we are always in the presence of God. Remembering this makes it a bit easier to maintain the attitude of thankfulness all the time and not just at this special time. In our culture thanksgiving is associated with harvest and, we hope, a harvest of plenty. Most of us are “over-blessed” with plenty which ought to make us sensitive to the material and spiritual needs of those around us. An essential element in this awareness is the understanding that God is ever with us.

       That understanding adds the spiritual value to the mundane things of life. Take for instance the big meal most of us have at Thanksgiving. It is so enjoyable! But how and why? Two things come to mind: first, we are blessed to live in a time and at a place where these blessings are available. And God made the turkeys and the hams! Second, Thanksgiving is so enjoyable because of the people with whom we enjoy it! It is such a magnificent blessing to look around the house and see family and friends. These people are God’s blessings! It’s not just familiar food and familiar human beings. It’s a way to “put on love, the bond of perfectness” (Colossians 3:14).

     When we go back to our Psalm we see three important reasons to continue in an attitude of thanksgiving. First, “the Lord is good” (Psalm 100:5). Remember the fellow in Mark 10 who came up running with a question for Jesus. He began by calling Him “Good Master.” Jesus got his attention by asking him “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” Mark 10:18 NKJV). By taking advantage of the word for “good” here Jesus emphasized the absolute goodness of God.

We can be thankful for that goodness because out of it flows God’s everlasting mercy. Mercy is loving kindness. God is “rich on mercy, for his great love wherewith He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). We often ask ourselves “Why?” when we think about The Lord dying for us on the Cross (Romans 5:6-8, John 3:16). It just has to come down to the fact that God’s goodness and mercy is so great that He simply decided to give us the opportunity for salvation.

     The Psalm ends, “and his truth endureth to all generations” (100:5 KJV). We ought to be thankful because the truth that makes us free continues to be available to us today (John 8:32). It has not run out!

     So we see that we all have ample reason to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to all!