by the Rev. Peter K. Stimpson
QUESTION: Forgive me for being a cynic, but what is Thanksgiving really all about? Our government almost went bankrupt, but now we have to wait for a few months to see if it will happen again. And on top of this, I just got over the worst case of the flu that I have had in years. Now, you clergy are telling me to celebrate Thanksgiving by thanking God for all he has done for me. Thanks for what?
ANSWER: Certainly, we all have a lot on our plates, but getting lost in a negative forest of cynicism is not going to help. Here are a few thoughts:
A. Focus on the Positives: All too often the intrusive, in-your-face negatives of life cloud our vision. While we should face problems squarely, there is little to be gained by dwelling on them. Instead, we need to not magnify the negatives, but see them in the light of countless positives that we all too often take for granted. Below are but a few.
B. What Positives?
1. Health: You had the flu. But, you have recovered. Aching and coughing are replaced with ease of movement and the ability to take a deep breath. Even in the midst of the flu, you read a book, watched TV, took a nap, and warmed yourself with a hot cup of tea and a fuzzy blanket.
2. Wealth: What really is your net worth? While material wealth is wonderful, you cannot take it with you. What you attain in life is the small goal. The big goal is who you become by how you relate to others. Your family loves you more because you gave them your heart, not just your wallet.
3. Spouse: Begin to look at the wealth right under your nose. Realize how lucky you are to have a wife who loves you, realizing that while she may have a few weaknesses, her strengths are far greater. Your marital vow is like a protective bubble, keeping interference out and intensity in your relationship. Who benefits from all that love? Take a guess.
4. Senses: How fortunate you are to be able to see a sunset, listen to a concert, smell flowers, taste a turkey dinner, and feel the warmth of a hot shower.
5. Intellect: Imagine not being able to go to school, read a magazine, talk with a friend, or creatively solve an annoying problem.
6. Will: You can love and be loved, the caring of wife, kids and friends making up for an army of bad breaks.
7. God: You are so loved by God that he was born in a manger instead of a palace, grew up as a carpenter in Nazareth vs. a Prince in Jerusalem, and died naked on a cross for your sins vs. surrounded by his family and friends at his bedside.
8. Salvation: The result of God’s love is your salvation. We would jump for joy if a doctor could extend our lives by 10 years. How about eternity!
So, there is plenty for which to give thanks. Dust off your bifocals, kiss your wife, bend your knee in church or the synagogue, and see the treasures that surround you every day of your life, even in the midst of all our troubles.
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