CLERGY CORNER: To whom are you thankful?

Posted on 21 November 2018 by LeslieM

In this season, we are often reminded and encouraged to be grateful for what we have and enjoy, but there is seldom any direction as to whom we should be thankful. I recently read a story of a blind boy stationed on a sidewalk with a sign identifying his infirmity. Strangers would pass by and place coins in his hat. A gentleman stopped to observe him for a while, then took the sign, wrote something else on the back of it and put it in its place. People began to contribute even more money when they read the sign: “it’s a beautiful day but I can’t see it.” The point of the story was that we should be thankful for the abilities we possess but often take for granted. There was no mention as to whom we should direct our gratitude, however.

As a believer, I am convinced by Scripture and experience that God is the source of our blessings. There was a time when most would readily agree with that sentiment. I was intrigued to learn that all 50 states acknowledge God in the preamble to their constitutions. The Alabama Constitution states, “We the people of the State of Alabama…invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution…” California’s Preamble: “We, the people of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom…” Connecticut states, “The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy…” Florida’s Preamble: “We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty…establish this Constitution.” Vermont’s Preamble: “Whereas all government ought to…enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man…”

Earlier generations willingly noted the goodness of God and rightfully appreciated His Providence. Technological and scientific advancements have certified our potential and made us more confident in our pursuits, but experience reveals that we do not have mastery over every circumstance. We owe our gratitude to someone greater than ourselves for the ability to breathe, think, act and achieve. Biblical admonitions abound concerning our need to be thankful to God. Psalm 106:1, “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.” Colossians 4:2, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.Isaiah 12:4-5, “And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.”

It is not enough to be merely grateful or thankful for something, one must necessarily be grateful to the person who made the thing possible. As a boy I learned the popular doxology which begins with, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” It established the fact that any good, beneficial and pleasant thing or experience had its origin in the favor of the Almighty God. As I look back over a lifetime of experiences, I am more and more appreciative to God for His undeniable goodness. Thanksgiving has become more than a seasonal acknowledgement of blessings. It is a daily practice that begins with the realization that I’ve awakened to a new day.

Hailey Bartholomew from Australia discovered how to overcome the sense of being stuck on the treadmill of life: find something daily for which to be thankful. It revolutionized her life as she began to see things she had never noticed before. She learned to live with gratitude and celebrate life. Why not follow her lead and cultivate a lifestyle of appreciation to God for His daily expressions of mercy and grace? In this season and always, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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