Thanksgiving is coming up soon, in two weeks everyone will be sitting somewhere, eating their favorite Thanksgiving meal. Whether that meal is bagel bites, pumpkin pie, or in my case mashed- potatoes and pecan pie, the idea of Thanksgiving is the same. When the Puritans came to America it was a totally new land, and the natives were totally different people, learning to do things on this new land and people changed many things for our history. Growing up learning about Thanksgiving, I was always more concerned with the effects of us on the natives rather than the fact that because America was found we now had a land that would soon be known for freedom. My problem with this idea however is, the native Americans didn’t gain freedom, they gained slavery, years of oppression, diseases that killed nearly all of them, and their land being taken over by selfish white people.
Thanksgiving originally happened so that the puritans could be thankful to God for the harvest and the food they were given through the year. In the 20th century America, we don’t worry about where our food comes from, we are more concerned with if it is organic or processed. All around us, children grow up not having enough food to get their daily nutrition, yet we become so concerned that the person we eat with makes our favorite dish, and if it is not made the right way we complain about it. We do it all the time, we complain that the food we have is not good or that when someone makes us something if it is not what we want we simply take a courtesy bite and then go and get a pizza. The focus of Thanksgiving, has been transferred by many to one thing… ‘food’.
Growing up, children who have religious parents are taught to pray and thank God for things in their lives, and if we think it is so important to teach our children, why don’t we practice it ourselves?
This is what I have observed to be good: that is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them- for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth, possessions and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil-this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. -Ecclesiastes 5: 18-20
The author of this book suggests that we need to thank God and be glad for what He has provided, the people who are thankful do not reflect on what they don’t have because of the thankfulness they have for what God has given them. In Hebrew and Greek, the word ‘Thanksgiving’ means to literally thank God for His grace. So, Thanksgiving day, is a day to thank God for His grace, which we don’t deserve. We can’t even say that we are entitled to it because, we are human and are influenced by our fleshly desires. God extends His grace daily, without grace we would have nothing, God’s great love gives grace and mercy to His children, without that grace we would have no way to the Father.
It is so easy today to become self- centered and so easy to be concerned with how we “feel” and our “needs” and completely forget the message of Christ. We become so obsessed with wanting to feel good that we forget about the true meaning of the Bible, and the life of Christ. It is not for us, but for Him. It is easy to say, “They didn’t even think about how that made me feel” or, “they don’t appreciate what I do” Christ was about serving others, and if we love Christ and want to obey Him, then we must have servant hearts. Thats all that Jesus did when He was on earth, He was a servant to the people around Him, He really cared for Him and healed them and loved them. He still loves us the same way He did the people He was around when He was on the earth.
Thanksgiving is a great holiday, and the fact that we get to sit around and eat until we are full (several times), play games and spend time with family is wonderful. What’s the point though, if we don’t remember to thank God for His grace? What’s the point if we don’t remember that without His grace, and without Him providing for us we would have nothing? Something my family used to practice is going around to each person at the table and saying something they were thankful, and as kids my siblings and I’s responses were very similar. We were thankful for our parents, for food, and for friends, but now that we are older, if we continued that tradition, I wonder what our answers would look like.
These days I would have to say that being thankful isn’t just limited to these answers, yes it is good to have a job, and yes family is great, but what about the things around the world? What about the girls that are rescued from sex trafficking? What about the fact that God has given you a season of change? My answers this year would have to be, I am thankful for the times when God speaks to me and changes me, for God providing because as a college student sometimes I have seen the exactness of when He provides, and for my relationship with Matt and how it is growing. What are you thankful for? Does God have anything to do with the things you’re thankful for?
Praying for a safe and meaningful Thanksgiving for you all,