I will never forget the grace Bart Simpson gave in the Simpson’s Thanksgiving episode one year. Homer asks Bart to say grace and out of the little cretens mouth comes; “Dear God we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing” As much as that might offend some of us, it is a profound commentary on modern Thanksgiving. For most, Thanksgiving is just a day off with no spiritual significance whatsoever. Even with what our culture has done to the commercialization of Xmas and Easter at least most still remember it is supposed to be about the birth and resurrection of our Lord. When it comes to Thanksgiving it is just another paid holiday like Victoria Day or Labour day. Most don’t have a hot clue what they are about either. In the US I think it is even worse. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the entire year. It is not actually a day off so more people call in sick than any other day. The American dream is a beautiful thing…
You know you have overdone Thanksgiving when…
* Paramedics bring in the Jaws of Life to pry you out of the Laz-e-Boy
* Your after dinner moans are loud enough to signal Dr. Kevorkian
* The “Gravy Boat” your wife set out was a real 12′ boat!
* The potatoes you used set off another famine in Ireland
* A guest quotes a Biblical passage from “The Feeding of the 5000”
* Representatives from the Butterball Hall of Fame called twice
* You get grass stains on your bottom after a walk, but never sat down
* Your wife wears a life jacket at night in your water bed
It is easy to forget the meaning of Thanksgiving and take for granted God’s incredible goodness to us. In Deuteronomy 8 God warns the children of Israel about the same thing. He says when you come into the promised land and you have eaten and are full, your flocks and crops have increased and you are dwelling in beautiful homes… “then you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth. And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Deut 8:17,18
Those of us that live in North America have forgotten how blessed we really are. We all have enough to eat and except for a very few we all have roofs over our heads. If someone really wants work there is always a job, and if you are sick you can walk into any hospital and get FREE medical care.
If you own a house you are richer than 95% of the world’s population. If you own a house and a car you are richer than 99% of the rest of the world. Not one of us ever has the right to complain about money. If you are on welfare you are still rich by the world’s standards. And then there is the fact that we have incredible freedoms. Freedom to worship God openly. Freedom to share Christ without fear of persecution or prison. Freedom to say and do just about anything we want. The United Nations ranks the world’s nations using their Human Development Index. No nation in the world has won as many times as Canada for having the highest quality of life. Of all the places in the world we already live in the promised land.
When the pilgrims first came to the North America they were searching for religious freedom. They were greeted by anything but a land flowing with milk and honey. Of the 102 pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock 52 died of starvation in the first year. They had almost a complete crop failure. Their ration for the winter was 5 kernels of corn per person a day. Nevertheless in 1621 Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford called the colonists together in the church house to give God thanks. Considering the kind of year they had had it might have felt like thanks for nothing. But in God’s providence he took care of them in an extraordinary way. Ten or twelve years earlier Spanish explorers captured a native Indian by the name of Squanto and took him as a slave. He was taken back to Europe but was rescued by some Friars that taught him the European languages and introduced him to Christianity. Squanto ended up in England, learning their language and culture. Eventually he was allowed to return to his homeland. When he arrived he discovered his entire tribe had been wiped out by an epidemic. The Plymouth colony was now established on the very spot that his people used to live. Squanto and Bradford became friends and he taught the new settlers how to grow cornto survive in the new land. Within a year the colony was prospering and flourishing. Squanto unfortunately became ill and died. Bradford praised God for Squanto saying, “(He) became our special instrument of God without him we would have all perished.” On his deathbed Squanto asked Bradford to pray for him that “he could go to the Englishman’s God in Heaven.”
Even when it doesn’t look like things are going our way, God always has the situation in hand. Even when there seems like there is no way, God will make a way. Even if it looks like nothing is happening, God always has a plan. We all have much to be thankful for but even if you can’t think of anything, give thanks for nothing.