Monday, November 23, 2015

Knowing God is KEY to being truly grateful at Thanksgiving!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     On Thursday, most Americans will sit down to turkey and dressing and celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  Most school children study the ‘first Thanksgiving,’ which was celebrated by the Pilgrims after landing in the New World in 1621.  According to a first-hand account written by Edward Winslow it was attended by 90 Natives and 53 Pilgrims after the first harvest in the new country.   In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.  Since that time it has been a federal holiday, but President Washington also proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in 1789.  In 1939, in a very controversial move, President Roosevelt changed it to the fourth Thursday in November.       
     In 1844, Lydia Maria Child wrote a twelve stanza poem for Thanksgiving entitled, “Over the River and Through the Wood,” that later became a 4 verse song.  The original words were; ‘to grandFATHER’S house we go, not grandmother,’ a little Thanksgiving trivia.  Many Americans will travel to visit family and friends and have quality time fellowshipping around the table, but what should Americans be thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Here are three reasons to be grateful to live in America:
     First, America is still a country that offers more opportunity for personal economic advancement than any place in the world.  Even in an environment where manufacturing is fleeing the country faster than rats off a sinking ship, it is still possible for the average American to lift themselves up by their bootstraps and make something of themselves.  No country offers the hard working entrepreneur more opportunities than America.  That is why we have immigration and refugee problem- people are leaving their homeland and fleeing to the land of opportunity and liberty because in spite of its shortcomings, the USA is still the best the world has to offer.
     Second, America has the best and safest food and water in the world.  It shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Over half of the world’s population has bad water and insufficient food.  A majority of the world’s population has a water supply that is either non-existent or polluted.  Their food supply is unreliable and inconsistent.   America should be thankful for those that produce process and supply their food and water supply. 
     Third, Americans have more liberty than citizens in any other country.  While it is true that liberty is under constant attack, most Americans live in states where they are legally able to arm and defend themselves.  For the most part, those citizens have the right of free speech, the freedom to worship as they see fit, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.  Americans live under a self-governing system of government unique to anyplace in the world. 
    Who provided all these blessings that Americans enjoy?  The obvious answer is God, but most Americans don’t understand what true gratitude is because they don’t know God?  Jonathan Edwards, a theologian and the first President of Princeton, said, “True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what He is in himself; whereas a natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation. The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a stock of love already in the heart, established in the first place on other grounds, viz. God's own excellency.”   
     John Piper says; “Gratitude that is pleasing to God is not first a delight in the benefits God gives (though that is part of it). True gratitude must be rooted in something else that comes first, namely, a delight in the beauty and excellency of God's character.” In other words, true gratitude must flow out of knowing who provides the blessings you are thankful for.  This Thanksgiving, are you really truly grateful?  Do you know God?

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