To Whom Are You Thankful? (And How Will You Respond?)
Most of us know how there is a tendency in our country to secularize holidays. If we are not careful, Christmas becomes a secular holiday which is about gift giving and Santa Claus. Likewise, Thanksgiving becomes a holiday all about eating lots of food—turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, corn, rolls, pumpkin pie, and the Lord only knows what else. Also secular Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a great emphasis on buying/buying/buying---all the way up until Christmas.
If Christmas is a holiday where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, then what is Thanksgiving? I am sure some who do not believe in God would say they are thankful, but for me it is difficult to think of Thanksgiving as not being personal and relational. Thanksgiving is a day when we give thanks to God.
Suppose you were delivered from death in a horrible car accident. As a Christian I would give profound thanks to God for that. A person who does not believe in God might feel joy, gratitude, and thanksgiving in being saved from probable death in a car accident, but if you pursue it with them, to whom (or to what) are they thankful? Are they thankful to Random Chance? Are they thankful to Being Accidentally Saved?
And more to the point, how do you respond if you are thankful to Random Chance or to Being Accidentally Saved?
As a Christian, I am thankful to God. I am thankful to Him for two things, and I must respond to Him (and to the world He made and died for) in thanksgiving. The two main areas for which I am thankful to God are for Creation and Salvation.
I am thankful to God for Creating me and all people. All blessings are from Him. I am concerned that maybe a million children may die from starvation in Yemen, and my thanksgiving to God MUST express itself in my reaching out to those in need. Since Yemen is a Muslim country, most Christian aid organizations cannot help there, but two organizations through which anyone could express their gratitude to God by helping save children there are Savethechildren.org and Unicef USA. For Save the Children, Google it, or go to: http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6153153/k.BDE3/Yemen.htm?msource=weolpyemv013 For Unicef, go to https://secure.unicefusa.org/donate/protect-children-conflict/32476
I am also thankful to God for Saving me by sending Jesus to die for me and for the world so that by trust in Him we could live in God’s Presence forever. In response I MUST express gratitude to God for His Saving Work by sharing the good news about Jesus with the world. Sharing the good news is something each and every believer should personally do. To help share the good news beyond your circle of influence there are also places to give to. Depending on which part of the world you want to reach out to, ask your pastor or priest. If you don’t have a pastor or priest, or he or she has no ideas, may I suggest going to the website www.cru.org and clicking on GIVE. Cru is one of the largest mission organizations in the world and describes itself as “a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ.”
So you see, it matters to Whom you are thankful this Thanksgiving, because that will determine How you give back!
Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column was first
printed in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.