IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS. This thanksgiving season a lot of people are having a hard time feeling thankful. Bad things have happened, bad news abounds, and more is probably on its way. Times like these make us remember that the Bible says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." We can be thankful in the situation in which we find ourselves, because we know that, "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose."
On Thanksgiving day, all across our nation families and friends are going to be sitting down around tables that are literally sagging with the weight of all the wonderful food they are about to devour. In many of those homes, a wonderful tradition of thankfulness will be observed before the children start tearing the legs off the turkey. One by one those gathered will take a moment to express the things in their lives for which they are thankful.
This year, as always, America has much for which to give thanks to God. Many would argue with me, citing the recent Attack on America, our worsening economy, and the threat of further terrorist actions. I agree that for those without faith the times, and indeed the world we live in, seem bleak indeed. But people who have a personal relationship with Jesus look at things much differently.
Take the September 11 terrorist attacks for example. I have seen estimates that the potential for lost lives from the four hijacked airliners was as high as eighty thousand souls. This includes the fifty thousand people who work in and visit the Twin Towers on a weekday, the maximum staff and visitors in the Pentagon, fully loaded airliners, and the people who could have been killed on the ground in a worst-case scenario. Instead, the Trade Towers stood long enough for the great majority to escape. The Pentagon was damaged in just one section. All four planes were carrying light loads of passengers. And four brave men forced one flight to crash in a lightly populated area instead of into its intended target. We can be thankful that almost 95% of the potential victims of the Attacks are alive today.
I find it embarrassing when news commentators declaim about the economic woes of America. The absolutely poorest citizen of the United States would be considered wealthy beyond imagination by the great majority of people living in third-world countries. Try to imagine a child from the barrio in Los Angeles comparing notes with a child from Calcutta. U.S: "I only have one pair of shoes." India: "I saw a rich person wearing shoes once." U.S.: "We’re so poor we have macaroni and cheese three times a week.We hardly ever get to go to Burger King." India: "I am so happy when I receive my one handful of rice each day. Sometimes after my mother feeds us children, there’s nothing left for her." U.S.: "I only got one toy for Christmas." India: "I wouldn’t have time to play with a toy if I had one. I work from sunup to sundown in the fields so that we will not starve." We can be grateful that we live in the most financially blessed nation that has ever existed on this planet.
"But we’re living under the constant threat of further terrorist attacks!" some would say. Children in Israel are more likely to die as a result of terrorism than from any medical cause. Christians in Sudan are sold into slavery for no other reason than that they name the Name of Christ. In many places in Africa you can be killed walking down the street just because you were born into the wrong tribe. In many Islamic nations run by the clerics, it is legal to murder people on the spot for promoting any other religion. This is not to belittle the great national tragedy we have endured. But we can be very grateful to God that the overwhelming majority of Americans have never experienced the reality of terrorism that a large percentage of the world lives with daily.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve sure convinced myself. I have a thankful heart.
AN EDITOR’S RESPONSE. As most of you know, we have an excellent Editorial Board which reviews every newsletter before it is published. One of the members, minister and author Michael Mihaltian, returned the following comments. I felt they were worthy of publication:
What these men meant for evil, God used for good. History gives us many examples of such occurrences. For instance, Hitler unwittingly became the impetus behind today’s civil rights movement. Because of his efforts to rid the world of the "imperfect races," people the world over - Jews and Hindus with Christians, black, white, yellow and red people - have banded together to create laws to protect minorities, and to stand against civil rights abuses.
Also, think about where we were as a nation on September 10th? Could we have called a prayer meeting of our nations leaders? Could we have led a worldwide coalition against anything? How many Americans would have worn the flag on their tie, or pasted one on their car, or raised one in their front yard? How many would have gone out of their way to say the pledge of allegiance boldly with hand over heart? Before 9/11, how many Americans were laying home on the weekend instead of attending a place of worship to ask God for deliverance? How many since? How many Americans have reevaluated family time and family commitments? This Thanksgiving many Americans will be sitting down to turkey, while actually experiencing thankfulness for the first time in many years.