It hardly seems possible that the holidays could be here already. After all, didn’t I just get all those boxes of Christmas decorations back in the attic? Well, maybe not, but in my estimation this has been an incredibly fast year.
While there are still several weeks left in this calendar year, one thing is certain: This has been a year of dramatic changes. From political uprisings and civil unrest to record-setting weather patterns, 2011 will leave an indelible mark on this world. With all the negative news coming at us ’round the clock, it’s sometimes hard to focus on the good things.
America has long been the ‘land of plenty’ — or, you might say, the ‘land of excess.’ You have to wonder what the early settlers to Plymouth Rock would have to say about the way we live. After all, those folks — who, according to H. U. Westermayer, constructed seven times as many graves as huts — still saw fit to set aside a time to give thanks to God. These Puritans were arguably the most impoverished Americans ever, yet they acknowledged God as the source of their blessings. They understood the art of thanksgiving.
In this time of persistent protests and rowdy upheaval, there’s a lot of talk about ‘the 99-percent.’ I contend that pretty much all of us constitute the one-percent . . . at least figuratively speaking. Consider this:
Americans are some of the wealthiest people in the world, with a very high GDP per capita. Americans are top in the world for most material possessions. The number of televisions, vehicles, and other such products per person are considerably higher than in any other country. For instance, the United States has some 754 televisions for every thousand people. No other country is even above 700, with Japan being closest at 680/1000. [Source: economicexpert.com]
While Americans don’t necessarily blow every country out of the water, particularly when you consider the long hours so many of us work, we as a people are undeniably blessed. Even with higher-than-usual levels of unemployment, continued home foreclosures, and rising costs of living, for all intents and purposes Americans are indeed blessed. One thing is generally true about tougher times: We are forced to evaluate priorities, strengthen relationships, and develop character — and hopefully a much deeper appreciation for God.
This Thanksgiving, consider yourself blessed if any or all of the following statements are true for you:
- You have food, clothing, and shelter.
Nearly two billion people in the world live in poverty.
- You can read and write.
Nearly 15-percent of people age 15 and up cannot. (worldwide)
- You are gainfully employed — part-time or full-time.
Millions even in America do not have jobs. (Consider yourself especially blessed if you enjoy your work.)
- You have reasonably good health and access to healthcare services.
Many around the world do not.
- You have family who cares about you.
I recently read about a man who lost every member of his family in an earthquake in Turkey.
- You have at least one close friend.
Loneliness is becoming more and more common even in our seemingly connected culture.
- You enjoy physical safety and security.
Many people live in constant fear of crime or terror attacks.
There are so many other ways by which we can gauge our blessings and quality of life. For me personally, the one thing for which I am most grateful is my relationship with Jesus Christ, who took my sin and shame and died for me that I might enjoy abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven with Him. Everything else really is gravy. If you don’t know Him, I’d love nothing more than to share that gift with you. Feel free to contact me.
I pray that your season of thanksgiving would not be all about a day on the calendar. I pray that you will acknowledge your blessings all year long — as well as the One from whom all blessings flow. Discover the art of thanksgiving. It can be truly life-changing.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Here’s a quick video that says a lot in just 80 seconds:
IT’S YOUR TURN!
What are you thankful for this year?