The importance of thankfulness

Published 5:19 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I recall a conversation a few years ago with someone who said that Thanksgiving really isn’t that big a deal — it’s just food and football. I believe my mouth dropped open when I heard it, but the more I’ve thought about the comment, the more I realize that it’s not that far from what most of us think of this holiday.

Whether you believe the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by Pilgrims in Massachusetts or earlier, by settlers here in Virginia, it’s clear that both groups sought to give praise to God for all He had done for them. They had an explicit understanding that their merciful Creator was the source of all their blessings. In other words, they weren’t just thankful, they were thankful TO someone.

An unknown author once wrote something that has stuck with me for years: “The worst moment for an atheist comes when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.”

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I believe that thought sums up much of what’s wrong in America today. Our society has come to credit its own wisdom, hard work and fortitude for its blessings. Hence, there is nobody for us to thank and, with no object of our thankfulness, no real reason to feel thankful.

When we stopped giving God the glory for our success as a nation — instead, taking that glory for ourselves — we lost touch with the most important interaction we have with our Creator, the sharing of our gratitude for His blessings.

And if we can’t be truly thankful to Him for what we have been given, how can we expect Him to continue to bestow those blessings? Wouldn’t it make sense that God would eventually allow us to see just how limited we really are on our own?

That’s a pretty frightening thought to me.

One thing that I’m taught over and over in life is just how insignificant my talents and abilities are, compared to what God can do. Without Him, I truly am nothing. He gives me the strength I need to get through each day, the power to love others unselfishly (though I don’t always succeed in applying that power) and the discernment to identify the evil in my own life.

He gives me peace amidst the turmoil of our chaotic world and calms my soul when I’m troubled by what’s happening around and within me. Most importantly, the gift of His Son, who made atonement for my sinful nature, gives me eternal hope.

Someone once told me that if we never utter another prayer, we should at least say, “Thank you.” I plan to dedicate a significant portion of this day, in particular, to letting God know that I appreciate His work in my life and in our nation.

I pray that Christians across the land will push back from their tables, turn off their televisions and do the same. It’s far more important than a football game.