We know the story of Thanksgiving. It involves the Pilgrims and the Native Americans gathering together and thanking the Lord for a harvest. The pictures we receive are colorful and festive. They don’t reflect the difficulty of the times. Life was tough. Many were dying of disease. The business of settling in a new land had many challenges.
Yet, the wisdom of the leaders was that the people would be better if they stopped to express gratitude for what they had.
There is all sorts of research that demonstrates that those who can muster gratitude live a “better” life than those who don’t. As Americans, we have much to be grateful for.
Let me list a few:
Most of us have roofs over our heads. Some estimate there are 100 million homeless people in the world. Most Americans don’t number among them.
We eat well. One third of the world inhabitants are starving. Another 1/3 are underfed. We have obesity threatening our health.
We have safe water. Estimates are that 2 million folks die a year because they didn’t have safe water to drink. Our water is not only safe but it has additives which help preserve our teeth.
We have toilets which handle our bodily waste. Would it surprise you to know 40% of the world’s population doesn’t have toilets? Bill Gates of Microsoft has given $42 million to organizations who are trying to figure out the safe disposal of bodily waste. More than 1.2 million kids under the age of five die every year from illness because they are exposed to bodily waste.
In America, if we have a fire, a fire truck and a team to put it out comes.
In America, if you are sick to the point of emergency and show up at a hospital, you are provided care – even if you don’t have insurance.
In America, you get to worship how you want, when you want and who you want.
In America, we have police that patrol our communities in an effort to make us safe.
In America, we have troops that travel around the world to preserve our freedom.
Factors like this and many more that come to mind – family, friends, a job, transportation – make us “rich” beyond measure.
A favorite Bible verse of mine is Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, much is required.”
On this Thanksgiving, I am challenged to move into a grateful state of mind and use that overwhelming sense of gratitude to fuel me toward being better: a better husband, a better dad, a better colleague, a grateful worshipper, a generous giver. Better every way I can. Because I have been given much. May I give much. As it is required.