I didn’t remember Christmas being right after Halloween! Yet, when I look around, I see stores taking down their Halloween decorations and breaking out the snowmen, reindeer, Santa Clauses, and elves. Setting aside for a moment this perversion of the real reason for the Christmas season, I’m concerned by this slide from one pagan observance to another. In addition to the distraction from the true meaning of the first Christmas, it completely ignores one of the few truly American holidays: Thanksgiving.
In this materialistic society in which we live, the nationwide trend is to forget those things that we have in the pursuit of something new that we desire. The only time we are supposed to remember those things we have is when they can serve as a means to an end; namely, to acquire something new!
The truth is, American Christians have become as caught up in this pursuit of material wealth as those who do not know Christ. As America has grown more prosperous, some have begun to preach that trusting Christ as your savior will automatically give you a better life…materially speaking. While it is true that receiving Christ will give you a better life spiritually, it is also true that God does not remove the consequences of every choice from your life. What does this mean? It means that your physical life may not improve as much as you think it should, just because you’ve joined the family of God.
Now, are material goods evil? No…but then, neither are they good. Even money is not innately evil, as it would seem that some believe. What is evil, the Scripture tells us, is the love of money. This is an important concept to grasp, because it flies in the face of the belief that all rich people are evil. Did some who are rich acquire their wealth by shady practices and unethical methods? Sure…but then again, some did not. The key, the Scripture tells us, is to be content with what the Lord has given you.
So what is Thanksgiving all about? Ask a group of ten youngsters, and you’ll probably get ten different answers. “Food!” hollers a five-year-old boy. “Football!” shouts a ten-year-old. “Family reunions,” grumbles a thirteen-year-old. Everyone chimes in with their view of what Thanksgiving is really about, but only a few, perhaps none of them, will give the real purpose: Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to God for His abundant provision.
Here is where contentment enters the equation. Many people, when confronted with this simple definition of the meaning of Thanksgiving, display an overt feeling of revulsion and protest, “But what do I have to be thankful for?”
Have you so totally surrendered your sense of gratitude and contentment to the inane race for more stuff that you can’t stop for even one minute to contemplate something for which you can be thankful?
Have you so forgotten the blessing of freedom that you can stand on American soil and complain that you have nothing for which to be thankful? Have you so ignored the sacrifice of countless men and women in uniform, some of whom are still serving to protect your right to forget, that you can’t spare one moment to be thankful?
Have you grown so used to eating three square meals a day that you have forgotten that millions are lucky to have even one? Have you become so accustomed to lying down at night and sleeping in perfect safety that you have forgotten that there are thousands, some in this country, who do not have that luxury?
Have you forgotten that there are those who cannot afford to purchase new shoes every year? Or who go without because they cannot afford them at all? Have you forgotten that there are many who lack basic necessities of clothing, while you gripe about your closet full of nice clothes, just because you’ve “worn everything at least once.” Really?
Have you forgotten what it means to be cold? Have you spent your entire life in climate-controlled environments to an extent that you forget that the actual climate does have some pretty uncomfortable extremes?
Have we as a nation become so used to having our every wish instantly gratified that we have had our consciences seared to an extent where we no longer appreciate the little things?
When I was growing up, my parents never allowed me to indulge my every whim, and they required me to maintain a good attitude and acceptable demeanor nonetheless. At the time, I thought they were mean. Now that I’ve grown older, I understand that they were teaching me to accept the reality that no, you don’t always get everything you want…but you should be thankful anyway.
Thanksgiving is next week…for what will you be thankful?