Over the past week I’ve received and issued a lot of wishes for a “Happy Thanksgiving”. It’s just what people do this time of year. If they are connected to the transportation industry as I am, they may wish you a “Safe and Happy Thanksgiving”. Some who never miss an opportunity to express their faith, or just want to assure you or themselves that they actually have faith, will wish you a Blessed Thanksgiving.
Most of us would gladly sign up for a Blessed Thanksgiving or just a Blessed Day anytime we can get it. But be careful what you wish for. In Matthew’s Gospel he reports what Jesus said about being blessed. Jesus says we are blessed when we are poor in spirit, when we mourn, are meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, are merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers and when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
But the world equates being blessed with being happy. And being happy means having our physical and emotional needs and desires satisfied. So don’t be sad, find your happy place. Dry your eyes, don’t cry. You be you. Be loud, be proud. No justice, no peace. Follow your heart as long as you are on the right side of the culture war. And persecution only matters if it’s based on race, ethnicity, gender, physical appearance, political affiliation or socio-economic status.
We live in a broken world turned upside down. We are most thankful for those things which make us feel good and are primarily related to pleasure and comfort. We think more about material blessings than we do about spiritual blessings. We tend to even measure our spiritual well-being in terms of our material blessings. Look how much stuff I possess. I must be doing more things right than wrong, so the Lord is blessing me with lots of good stuff. I better give thanks…and really mean it. This is a great life. And when life is not so great, we petition God to fix it…and maybe even forgive us now and then. We just want to get back to having a great life now.
No, that’s not the promise. It’s possible. But it’s not promised and it’s not earned. In the end, it’s really not even all that important. And it may even be a hindrance. It’s not wrong to thank God for material blessings. But these are all temporary. The material world is not only broken but it is dying. Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven. And be thankful when you find it.
Thanksgiving ought to be a time for reflection and repentance. A time for commitment to use whatever God has given us for his glory and his purposes, not just for our own personal pleasure. But most of us will be more committed to finding the perfect Christmas gift or planning the best party or just enjoying the holiday season. It’s what people are inclined to do in the midst of brokenness.
"And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." - 1 John 2:17