I’m Thankful For…
So many people will be celebrating today (Thanksgiving) by starting off sentences with the words, “I’m thankful for…” Traditionalists will say it before carving a turkey. Vegans will say it before carving a large piece of vegetable protein disguised as something they secretly wish they could eat. Children will even say it just to please their grandparents and to be assured an extra scoop of Cool Whip on their pumpkin pie.
But one thing’s for sure, being thankful implies the influence of an outside source and suggests things could have been different, despite a person’s will. And even though it might sound crazy, being thankful suggests there is someone to be thankful to.
Thankful to Whom?
Maybe you have never stopped to think about it, but being thankful for anything is pretty ridiculous when there is no one to be thankful to. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary* defines “thanks” as a “plural noun…an expression of gratitude…another way of saying THANK YOU.” So, who is the “YOU” that you are thankful to?
According to many of the stories I have heard, especially in public schools, the original celebrants of Thanksgiving were thankful only to the Indians (Native Americans). According to many accounts, the Pilgrims were so happy that the Indians provided them with food and land that a party was necessary. So, in other words, the first “thanks” of Thanksgiving was given to Squanto and the Wampanoag people.
That’s not totally correct.
Thankful to God
Like those who celebrated in 1623, I am thankful to God. Unlike the common history lessons, the Pilgrims recognized the true Source of blessing.
“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
—William Bradford, Ye Governor of Ye Colony
If I am going to be thankful, I am going to be thankful to the “great Father…who has granted us freedom to worship [Him] according to the dictates of our own conscience.” As a pastor, I will lead my congregants in praise to the “Almighty God for all His blessings.”
What am I thankful for?
I am most thankful for those things which I could not have had if it were not for the grace of God. Among those things are mercy and forgiveness; a family; a peace that passes all understanding; joy unspeakable and full of glory; and even a love for my enemies.
I am also thankful for and to those who serve this great nation, putting their lives at risk for my (and others’) freedom.
I am thankful for and to those who enforce the laws and keep the peace here at home, and for those who brave dangers to rescue us from harm.
“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” – Psalm 107:1
And ultimately, I am thankful for all the blessings which I do not deserve, including all of you who read this blog, even those who do not believe a word of what I am saying.
One More Thing
One more thing…being that I have some Cherokee blood in me, I understand that Thanksgiving may not be a Native American’s favorite holiday, but the principle of thanksgiving remains. When we give thanks, whom do we give thanks to?
“All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.” – Psalm 86:9
“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” – Psalm 117:1
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” – Revelation 7:9
One day, when all is said and done, we will all stand before God and give thanks, for He is the God of us all, despite what we have done to each other.
*Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).