Many of you know that each year I use this week to share a column with a Thanksgiving theme. It is my favorite American holiday since it originated in our land in the 1600s. In former years, it kicked off the official Christmas shopping season, but that has already begun. Still, it has remained somewhat less commercialized than others.
I find myself rather conflicted as I write these thoughts. There has never been such a time of great progress in technology, health care, and even the general production of foods and goods across the world and even national borders. Yet there is also a sense of lack of well-being – if not for ourselves then for many of our fellow citizens.
In the midst of plenty, we now have hundreds of thousands of homeless, many of whom are mentally ill. In spite of federal nutrition programs providing over $10 billion of benefits each month, as well as our churches and social agencies giving out free food each week, we are told that many are hungry. Drug and alcohol dependence afflict so many families with death or dysfunction. We say we want every child to be a wanted child, yet has the welfare of our children improved in the past decades?
Interestingly, conditions in much of the world have improved in the past 30 years. Child mortality has dropped from 12.5 million in 1990 to 5.2 million in 2019, according to the United Nations (www.un.org/development). It has been great to see the incidence of polio drop from hundreds of thousands to less than a few hundred cases per year. The World Health Organization estimates that the percentage of undernourished in the world (after years of decline) rose to 9.9 percent of population in 2020.
Even so, is it right and good that we should celebrate Thanksgiving, gathering together for our big meal? Personally, I look to the Bible in Psalms, chapter 92, for the answer. No matter what condition we personally find ourselves, it is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. . .
I do not believe that it is God’s fault that we suffer our ills, but instead that He is the one from whom we receive all of our blessings. This is a broken and fallen world and it was not God’s idea for it to be like this.
While God provides sunshine and rain upon the just and the unjust, we have the free will to make poor choices or wise choices. In the words of Dave Ramsey, many of us are paying or have paid the Stupid Tax for our personal decisions. We also suffer from those choices of others.
I also believe it is in our power and duty to help others even while they may be making poor choices. Many will be actually serving others at some of the agency facilities tomorrow. May we have the mindset to be grateful for what we have, what we have been given, that we can do good with those resources, and that we have such a fantastic Creator Father God who loves us so much!