Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).
There are those who feel there is little reason to celebrate this Thanksgiving. They point to a long list of disappointments and fears. They believe 2020 has been a failure.
We never did get relief from the pandemic. It only seems to be getting worse.
We can’t go out to our favorite restaurant. In fact, many of them are shuttered.
Businesses are closing. Workers are laid off. Football games are being played without fans in the stands.
ICUs are filling up. So are the morgues. And now we are warned not to plan family gatherings for the holidays.
Honestly, do we have any reason to celebrate Thanksgiving? Not just the eating of good food, but the giving of thanks—not to family and friends, not to an employer or government, but to the almighty God?
Of course, we do.
It may help us to consider what our grandparents, great-grandparents, and others from the past would say if they could sit down with us at our Thanksgiving table.
Might some tell us of Thanksgiving 1918—with Spanish Flu infecting 500 million, killing 50 million around the world, and 675,000 American deaths?
Might some say they remember Thanksgiving 1933—with crops ruined by sandstorms and grasshoppers? Would they remind us that the Great Depression lasted some ten years?
What would the Soldiers of the 101st Airborne say about Thanksgiving 1944 in the snow just before the deadly Battle of the Bulge?
Maybe we should ask the Vietnam Veteran about his Thanksgiving facing down Charlie.
Maybe we should try to place ourselves with those who were to celebrate Thanksgiving during the Civil War in 1863 as they read the proclamation of President Lincoln:
“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.”
Maybe we should listen to the words of Warrior King David:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
After all, Thanksgiving is not about us, but about the one “from whom all blessings flow.”
We have not been cheated. Maybe, we have been spoiled. Maybe, we have become forgetful. Maybe, we should be ashamed.
But certainly, we have been blessed.
Every last thing that we feel we have missed out on is a blessing we once were given.
Christmas is coming. That reminds us that Christ has come. That reminds us that we were bought with holy blood.
Rescued from being imprisoned with demons, watched over by angels, and headed on our way home to eternal glory…
Do we have reason to thank “our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”?
Of course, we do.
Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, In whom his world rejoices,
Who from our mother’s arms Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love And still is ours today.
All praise and thanks to God The Father now be given,
The Son, and him who reigns With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, Whom earth and heaven adore!
For thus it was, is now, And shall be evermore. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military