I have read of a poor woman in a small house who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water. Lifting up her hands, she said in praise, “What! All this, and Christ too?”
Back during the dark days of 1929, a group of ministers in the Northeast, all graduates of the Boston School of Theology, gathered to discuss how they should conduct their Thanksgiving Sunday services.
Things were about as bad as they could get, with no sign of relief. The bread lines were depressingly long, the stock market had plummeted, and the term Great Depression seemed an apt description for the mood of the country.
The ministers thought they should only lightly touch upon the subject Thanksgiving in deference to the human misery all about them. After all, there was to be thankful for.
However, there was one pastor, Dr. William L. Stiger, that rallied the group. This was not the time, he suggested, to give mere passing mention to Thanksgiving, just the opposite. This was the time for the nation to get matters in perspective and thank God for blessings always present, but perhaps suppressed due to intense hardship.
Even during the Great Depression there was much to be thankful.
A person could be grateful for having been born in America, the greatest nation in the history of the world for the freedom and opportunity it provides individuals. What other nation in history was “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal?”
A person could be grateful for freedom of worship. In 1929, the Communist were on the march. The Nazis were rising to power. People were being enslaved. Bibles were being confiscated. Churches were being shut down. Houses of worship were being transformed into warehouses or public latrines. Because human nature does not change, evil is still on the march. Today, evil is manifested in the Muslim religion which has produce the religious Jihad for devout followers. In America, for now, there is still freedom of religion, and for that, there is reason to be grateful.
A person could be grateful for family and friends.
A person could be grateful for personal salvation and the hope of heaven.
Dr. Stiger was thinking correctly when he rallied church leaders in his generation to lead others to thank God for blessings always present.
Ironically, the most intense moments of thankfulness are not found in times of plenty, but when difficulties abound.
Perhaps in your own life, right now, there are some intense hardship. You are experiencing your own personal Great Depression. Why should you be thankful this day? May I suggest three reasons?
We must learn to be thankful or we will become bitter. It has been said that what does not break us will make us better. There is truth in that thought. The heart must be guarded against bitterness. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
We must learn to be thankful or we will become discouraged. The human heart needs hope. Our hope is in the Lord, in His mercy, and in His goodness.
We must learn to be thankful or we shall surly grow arrogant and self-satisfied. Only three nations celebrate an official day of Thanksgiving: the United States, Canada, and the Philippines. The world would be better off if more nations, and more individuals looked upward to bless the God of heaven, and to say to the Creator, “Thank you Lord, for making me whole, thank you Lord, for saving my soul, thank you Lord, for giving to me, thy great salvation, so rich and free.” This Thanksgiving, praise God from whom all blessings flow.