The Weekly Dream: The Purpose of Thanksgiving
“I once was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet…”
“But love your enemies and do good…and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”
I know everyone thinks they know how the tradition of Thanksgiving began in America, with the Pilgrims breaking bread with the Native Americans. I watched the Mayflower like everyone else. However, no one ever explained to me why we pick a random day in November to be thankful. And what exactly are we being thankful for?
Now, the tongue-in-cheek response would be for the blessings we have, family, people in our lives etc. etc. However, I believe this is an attempt to something much deeper. The purpose of thanksgiving is to bring to remembrance the good things in our lives, whatever they may be.
As human beings, we are kind of “the glass is half-empty” types. Out of all the good things that may occur, the majority of people would focus on the few negative things that occur. Or take for granted the thousands of little things that are blessings, while waiting for the “Big One” of good fortune. The story of the Ten Lepers illustrates how we tend to be.
In Luke 17:11-19, ten lepers saw Jesus walking by and asked for Him to heal them. Jesus told them to show themselves to the priests and as they went, they were healed. However, only one came back and thanked Jesus. Rhetorically Jesus asked, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” These men, who were outcasted from daily life because they were defiled forgot to glorify God for something so major. How much more do we forget to thank God for the minor miracles in our lives?
An email forward my friend Nicole sent me brought this home for me. In the email, Rick Warren, author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” discussed the impact of his wife having cancer coupled with his new found success. He stated that “there are always good things and bad things going and coming in your life. No matter how good things are, there are things that need to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are, there is something you can thank God for. You can focus on purposes or you can focus on problems.”
I know I struggle with being thankful in the midst of adversity. Especially when things are rough, I find it hard to humble myself and “count my blessings,” as my grandparents used to say to me as a child. My version of that was “it could always be worse.” While this is true, it still keeps the focus on the negative, rather than the good that is in my life. And normally, the trials and tribulations I have gone through, have taught me about myself, as well as allowed me to impart wisdom, empathy, knowledge and edification to those in need.
My life, like yours, is far from perfect. We have suffered indignities, minor, as well as major injustices. Our plans may not have come to fruition like we hoped and calamity may be knocking on our front door. But there is something that we can be thankful for. And thinking on those good things can help you through the hurts and pain of life. So remember “better is a little where love is, than a feast with contention.”
Therefore, enjoy your Thanksgiving with peace and merriment, regardless of what you situation may be. If nothing else, be thankful that tomorrow holds the promise of a new day. And tomorrow does not have to be like today, if you do not want it to be.
If you can’t find the good in your life, then you aren’t looking hard enough.
Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas