In All Things, Give Thanks! -- Dr. Robert Richardson
For many, Thanksgiving means a long, four-day-week-end off from work, perhaps a significant amount of travel to visit with family, and, of course, consensus agreement to eat too much.
Just before the meal, there is usually a prayer of thanksgiving. The content of the petition usually includes a reminder of an abundance of blessings, thanks for family, request for traveling mercies, gratitude for the food, and perhaps a reminder that many within our society do not have enough to eat.
Seldom do we include in our prayers thanks for the hard times that teach us persistence, the difficult times that instruct us in endurance, the trying times that show us patience, or the traumatic times that remind us anew of how fragile life really is.
After all, how in the world can we muster any thanksgiving regarding the difficulties of life? Rather our tendency is to give up, to be impatience, to quit, or maybe flee from being reminded that we are mortal.
Perhaps we would do well to look at the challenge of the Apostle Paul to the churches in Thessalonica and Ephesus. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Th. 5:18). “…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20)
While touring the Canadian Rockies several years ago, our guide pointed out a landscape filled with lodgepole pines. He noted that the pine cones of these trees do not open to drop their seeds until the temperature reaches near 140 degrees. The only way this can happen is a forest fire.
Nature provides lightning strikes to start the fires and the lodgepole pine continues to regenerate. While we may give thanks for the landscape, we are hesitant to acknowledge the forest fires that make the beautiful landscape possible.
In like manner, we marvel at the rainbow painted across the eastern sky and give thanks. But we tend to grumble about the spring storm that has just made the rainbow possible.
“Thank God every day when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues, which the idle will never know.” (Basil Carpenter).
Perhaps we should offer this prayer: "O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!" – (William Shakespeare).