NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, November 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
Commentator Cal Thomas now with some thoughts on gratitude during difficult days.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: For some, this Thanksgiving—like last year—is a more difficult occasion than previous ones. Perhaps you lost a loved one to Covid-19. Or maybe you feel isolated from relatives and friends due to lockdowns, quarantines, travel restrictions, vaccinations (or not), masks and “distancing.” Maybe you think you have little to celebrate or be thankful for.
What we regard as the first Thanksgiving was recorded in 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first harvest. They faced many challenges, including the loss of friends and family who died on the treacherous journey from England. Others succumbed to disease after they arrived. Still, these adventurous explorers thanked God for their survival and for the religious and other freedoms they believed they now had. Gratitude in the midst of such circumstances should be a model for us, who are many times more blessed.
At Thanksgiving we are supposed to be thankful for what we have received. But Jesus told his followers to think more about what they give to others. During the Sermon on the Mount he said, “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Those who make a practice of giving to others, especially people in need, understand why he told us to love our neighbors sacrificially.
On the other hand, our culture tells us we are entitled to certain benefits and deserve them. The focus is on receiving, not giving. There is little gratitude that comes from receiving what one deserves. But giving brings much happiness, especially when we give to those who cannot reciprocate. The rewards last far longer than overeating at the Thanksgiving table. Giving might take the form of something material, like food, or help with a rent payment. Or it could be something as simple as a phone call or note telling someone you are thinking about them and how much they matter.
When President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day celebration in 1863, the nation was torn apart by the Civil War. In spite, or perhaps because of that tragedy, Lincoln ended his proclamation with this: “And I recommend to (the American people) that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
That seems to be as relevant today as it was then, since we also are torn apart by a social and political “civil war.” But we still have much to be thankful for. Let’s demonstrate our gratitude by giving to others.
I’m Cal Thomas.
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