Is Gratitude In Short Supply?
What is our biggest problem? The answers to that question are probably as varied as the people answering the question. You could point to host of problems in our fallen world and you would not be wrong, unless you said "churros." That would be wrong.
Some have suggested that our biggest problem is "ingratitude" or perhaps a "lack of gratitude." Could that be right? Indeed, we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday dedicated to gratitude! We will drive hundreds of miles, spend hours cooking a vast array of meats and way too many side dishes, consume half of what we cooked in 45 minutes or less, drink excessive amounts of wine and something called "White Claw," and watch the same teams play terrible football. We now just call it Turkey Day rather than Thanksgiving! Cynical? Who, us?
I know that supposedly Pilgrims and Indians got together one-time to celebrate the harvest one time back in the day. But, this is really just a made up holiday that we did not even celebrate regularly until the late 1800s when a President of the United States "tweeted" the following:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
The year was 1863 and President Lincoln would give the Gettysburg Address in just a few days. Just months before, 51,000 men were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. The Civil War would rage for another year and a half and ultimately 650,000 Americans would die in that terrible conflict. Yet, here is President Lincoln calling on Americans to set aside a day of Thanksgiving! Would we do the same?
Our politics is shot through with anger and civil strife. How does it compare to 1863? Rich or poor, we live in a time of unprecedented wealth and abundance. We are essentially the lottery winners in the history of world being blessed to live in this place at this time. Of course, I am not suggesting that we should be blissfully frolicking with unicorns in fields of rainbows.
Yet, we tend to lose sight of the blessings that surround us. This failure to remember begets ingratitude. It can be defined as a failure to remember a kindness extended. Perhaps, it would be better to substitute "grace" for kindness. Regardless, the many graces we enjoy were given. No one forgets on purpose. Yet, we allow the cares and worries of our lives (however, small they are, they seem large at the time) to crowd our our remembrance of the gifts we enjoy. We should follow the admonition of President Lincoln:
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 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.
The passage of time has only made this message more important for us to hear. I am not sure if some that was already true can be "truer" today. It should. Happy Thanksgiving!