As you read this, we will have experienced yet another Thanksgiving holiday and it sure seems to me they come around quicker each year! Hopefully your Thanksgiving was a day filled with family, friends, good food (love that turkey and dressing) and peace. But are we truly grateful for what we have and do we give any thought to the source of our good fortune?
A few years ago I attended a meeting where a husband and wife had recently returned from a service mission in western Africa and were reporting on their experiences. One of the characteristics of the local people they related to us made a great impression on me. They recalled how utterly grateful the people were for every little thing.
Now these were folks who lived in unbelievably humble circumstances where the focus of their daily routine consisted of procuring enough food to feed their family that day. Even so, they thanked their God for what little they had and pressed forward with hope for a better future. How many of us could or would do the same?
I believe that each of us could relate similar stories of those we knew who had little but were thankful to their Maker for the blessings and the impression that made on us. And I believe that most of us are grateful and probably thank our God from whom ultimately, all blessings flow. But doesn’t gratitude incur a mandate for some action on our part; a willingness to express our thankfulness in deeds as well as words? I believe it does.
Recall, if you will, the instance contained in Luke 17:12-19 of the New Testament when Jesus healed ten lepers and only one returned to give thanks and praise to God and Jesus asked rhetorically, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” Furthermore, we are admonished in the Holy Scriptures to render aid and assistance to our fellow men, to be our brothers’ keeper.
Consequently in my mind, if we are truly thankful we should not be as the “nine” who were happy to be blessed but went about their way with no thought or sense of obligation; rather we should be as the “Good Samaritan” and be of tangible service to our fellow beings; we should be “doers of the word, not hearers only.”
With the upcoming Christmas season there are numerous ways we can demonstrate our gratitude by helping others. It could be as simple as visiting a shut-in, shoveling snow for that elderly neighbor or running errands for those without transport. The list is long and the need is great, even in our blessed land of plenty.
I encourage all of us to look forward to the future with a bright hope and a determination to demonstrate our gratitude to God by helping others. We will be a great source of good and spread peace and happiness as we go.