Nov. 24, 2016

There’s so much to be thankful for

This line is my favorite of all Josh Groban’s songs- “There’s so much to be thankful for”. Just that sometimes we don’t really understand it. In the fifth stanza he writes, “Even with our differences there is a place we’re all connected. Each of us can find each other’s light”. Groban’s lyrics do not have the word GOD mentioned explicitly but he points us in that direction when he says, “And every day we hope for what we still can’t see”.

I’m glad that this day is set aside for thanksgiving in the United States. Let’s remember that the event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and—as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow, it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. Customarily, the New England colonists regularly celebrated "thanksgivings" (days of prayers) thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought. Since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Together with Christmas and the New Year, Thanksgiving became a part of the broader holiday season in the United states.

The great Abraham Lincoln used the exact words, "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens". He recognized the need to attribute all things to God who is in the heavens. And even if we do not go into biblical exegesis here, Josh Groban’s words still make deep sense, “Even with our differences there is a place we’re all connected”. That place where we’re connected is the Supernatural Force that holds all things, “for in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth” (Col.1:16). Why won’t we thank God for what America and the whole world have been and what by his grace, the world will continue to be.

Three days ago, I conducted an interview with a group of homeless men numbering over twenty-five. These men are in the age bracket of twenty-five to sixty years. One great surprise that formed my take-away at the end of the conversations is the value and emphasis which each of these men place on God. Although they have no home or shelter, little food and clothes, and worry about their security, they still recognize the greatness of God in their lives. Most of these men acknowledge responsibility for their being homeless. Some of them regret stupid acts they’ve done in the past and would do things differently if given another chance, but they see God as the reason to be thankful. One of these men told me bluntly, “The reason why I still live is God and my family”.

In the course of doing this article, I lost the first version which was ready to be posted online. It took me two hours to put the article together. All attempts to recover it proved wasteful. I was almost upset, but I asked myself why I should be upset when I’m doing a piece on thanksgiving. The song by Groban came back to my head, “There’s so much to be thankful for”. Then I picked up courage to start this all over again. It happens from time to time; different things that could make us grumble. We need to discover reasons to be thankful in our lives. Be it scientific breakthrough or technological innovation. Be it agricultural gain or intellectual discovery. Be it financial benefit or adventure. Negatively, be it loss of a dear relative or property. Be it failure or loss of job. Be it lack of finance or disappointment. Be it natural disaster or accident, there is so much to be thankful for.

On a day like this, we share the warmth of relatives, families, friends, colleagues, etc. We also have to recognize the needy, homeless, poor persons and those without shelter. They are intimate part of our lives and reasons to be thankful. We need to recognize the fundamental Reason and Cause of all that we have and are. That is God. In that sense, Thanksgiving becomes our own Harvest time, an opportunity to thank God for what we have achieved and received. Either we have achieved them or have achieved them because we live. And our life is given to us without pay. There’s so much to be thankful for.

Dr. Henry Morris once wrote, “It is a good custom to respond to someone’s gift or help, and all of us should express our pleasure for the effort extended to us from another person—even if the necktie is “strange” or the flowers make you sneeze. The old cliché still applies—it’s the thought that counts. The custom of “thanksgiving” is helpful, both as acknowledgement and as encouragement. But the emphasis in Scripture is much more specific, revolving around the concepts of confession and praise”.

So today, let’s sing with the Psalmist, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love endures forever” (Ps.118:1). There’s indeed so much to be thankful for.