George Bowers: Thankful to whom?
What great blessings we enjoy in this country and what a great holiday is Thanksgiving to reflect upon them! In spite of all that’s wrong with America, it’s still the best place in the world to live and people are literally risking their lives to move here. Each of us should take a few minutes this week to pull out a pen and some paper and jot down a list of what we are thankful for.
All this thanksgiving, however, begs the question, “To whom are we giving this thanks?” Every gift has a giver and it would be foolish to be thankful without someone to thank. While we are certainly thankful to our forefathers for their wisdom and work in establishing this nation, and thankful to our veterans who have sacrificed to preserve it, none of these ultimately created any of the abundant natural or human resources with which we are so richly blessed. Who gave us this soil? These mountains and trees? This clean and abundant water? Those rich and plentiful minerals? And the ingenuity to use it all wisely?
Our nation’s forefathers knew whom to thank, for in 1623, Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth, Massachusetts, wrote, “…the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, etc.” The Puritans had no problem identifying from whom all their blessings came.
Nor did the Continental Congress in 1777, for its first national proclamation of thanksgiving recognized, “Almighty God,” as the one who should be thanked. In 1789, our nation’s first president and an outstanding Virginian, George Washington, called for a national day of thanksgiving, citing the “providence of Almighty God … the great Lord and Ruler of Nations.” Likewise, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863 thanking “our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” These great men of our history had no trouble at all in figuring out who should be thanked for all the blessings that make up America.
Indeed, the Bible affirms who this generous giver really is. James 1:16-17 tells us, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” So that’s where it all comes from. Every good gift on our “thanks” lists has come from God. He may have used someone else to deliver it to us, but ultimately, he is the benefactor and original provider of every good thing we enjoy. In fact, Psalm 16:2 goes so far as to declare, “Apart from You, O God, I have no good thing.”
It is obviously clear from our history and God’s word, that our thanksgiving should be directed heavenward to the one who has not only created and arranged every atom in the universe, but has also provided so many of his gifts to undeserving sinners such as us. This Thanksgiving, don’t just be thankful, be thankful to God through his son Jesus Christ, for the abundant gifts he has given you. Happy Thanksgiving! George.
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.