Thanks...For What?

In the year 1687, three ships from England sailed into Chesapeake Bay looking for the perfect spot to build a settlement.  They sailed fifty miles up the James River and there amid "fair meadows and goodly tall trees," the more than one-hundred and five men began the colony of Jamestown.  Sixteen years later a study of the cost of this colonization was made by England.  The costs were high.  Of the six-thousand colonists who had taken part in the colonial adventure, four-thousand had died.  It had cost England two-hundred thousand pounds with no profit in return.  Malaria, bad water, flooding and Indians made Jamestown a difficult place to stay alive.  As we enjoy the season of "thanks" living, please don't take our country for granted.

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln told a nation that was embroiled in self-destruction, "We have forgotten the gracious hand which has preserved and strengthened us, and have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

Because of the repetition and commercialization of the holiday season, it's easy to lose the real meaning of the event.  We need to remember this Thanksgiving to be grateful.  Let us be thankful for the conduct of others.  Their expression of redemptive concern.  Let us appreciate the compassion of those who care.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed on a Nazi gallows on April 9, 1945.  A few months prior to his death, he wrote these words to his mother in a letter of thanksgiving, "Thank you for all the love you have brought into my cell during the past year.  It has made every day easier to bear.... May God keep you well.  With loving wishes, dear, dear Mother, for a happy.... Your grateful Dietrich.

My encyclopedia says, "Thanksgiving has become an established American custom, although the devotional observances of early days has given way largely to sports, recreation, family reunions and feasting."  Let us pause to be grateful for physical well-being; for our physical and material blessings; grateful for a new purpose in the immediate future, bright with hope; grateful for restored relationships with family and friends.

There is nothing harder than to be consistently thankful.  All of us have a hard time maintaining an attitude of gratitude, that mind set, that demeanor, that disposition of a thankful heart.

Maybe you have been selling thanksgiving short!  It is such a powerful resource for living and yet we relegate it to one day a year.  But if we can learn to rejoice and be thankful in everything, we can make Thanksgiving a holiday for every day!
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