Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. I can’t think of a better day of the year to be thankful for what God has given you, for what you have in your life, for what has happened in your life, both good and bad, things you have learned from which were not pleasant at the time, and things that were really meaningful experiences that were pleasant at the time, and you can look back at both of these experiences, good and bad, and say I learned something from this experience, from this time in my life, or you can say wasn’t that time a wonderful time in my life and give thanks to God, and to each other, and to others that helped make it a wonderful experience.
In the Gospel passage this evening Jesus said, “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you– you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, `What will we eat?’ or `What will we drink?’ or `What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”.
So the story in this passage is this: Give thanks for what is happening in your life. Do not take things for granted. Have a grateful heart. Let’s not just go through life and not pay attention to what’s happening in us, around us and to us. What has God done in your life? What have you learned? What stands out special? As I was thinking about this I was reminded of so many occasions in my life that give me pause, times that I am grateful and thankful for.
One special occasion comes to me. I remember living in Portland, Oregon, and we were there so I could go to Bible College. Naomi was pregnant with our first son, Nathan. I was working at night and going to school in the day. We were so poor and needy at that time. You’ve heard the expression “we are so poor we don’t have two nickels to rub together”. That was us, but we were making it. We were happy, in love and wonderfully involved with the church, friends and each other. Of course, on recollection you could say we were young and stupid, and didn’t have enough since to come in out of the rain.
One night we were walking on one of the city streets that were near our apartment. We discovered 2 quarters in our pocket, and at the time, that was enough for two coffees and two doughnuts, so that’s exactly what we spent our last 50 cents on. Then we were broke, but we really enjoyed our coffee and doughnuts. It was a special time in our lives. Everything was before us. We were looking forward to the child that was to be born soon. We were thankful about where we lived, having food, shelter and a job, and among people that cared and went out of their way to care for us and make sure we were okay. I am thankful for those times. They are priceless memories, memories that are beyond cost.
There are times in our lives when we should be thankful. I am reminded of that scripture in Romans that says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) What are you thankful for? Don’t be like the 9 lepers that were healed and did not turn back with a thankful heart and give thanksgiving. Let us be like the one that did turn back and say thank you Jesus for that awfully good thing you have done in my life.