WEEKLY WORD from Dr. Andrews – November 18, 2019
More than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving. Paula Twidale, Vice President, AAA Travel said, “Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season.” This leads me to wonder if Americans truly understand how blessed we really are as a nation, and why do we have so much? In light of how the majority of the world’s population lives, Americans, even those who are poor by our standards, are more wealthy than the people in most other nations of the world. So why do some people show very little or no appreciation for what they have in this great country? Maybe it’s because that the prevailing attitude is “I deserve it” or “it’s just fate.” There is a lesson from God’s Word that all of us could benefit from this Thanksgiving season.
In the Bible there is story about ten lepers who had an encounter with Jesus. Luke 17:11-16, “As they continued onward toward Jerusalem, they reached the border between Galilee and Samaria, and as they entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, sir, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go to the Jewish priest and show him that you are healed! ” And as they were going, their leprosy disappeared. One of them came back to Jesus, shouting, “Glory to God, I’m healed! He fell flat on the ground in front of Jesus, face downward in the dust, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a despised Samaritan.” Amazingly, out of the ten men, who were healed of the most dreaded disease of that time, only one came back to Jesus and thanked him. Equally as amazing is the fact that the one who came back wasn’t even Jewish, who should have had the most understanding that what had happened to them was of God, but it was a Samaritan, who the Jews considered heathens, who returned and gave thanks to God.
During the first American Thanksgiving at the Plymouth Colony in 1621, Governor William Bradford said “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.” In this act of Thanksgiving the Pilgrims, who were survivors of a brutal first year in a new land, demonstrated their thankfulness, much like the Samaritan leper who returned to Jesus. In their act of thanksgiving they did not take credit for or boast of their own skill and resourcefulness for their survival, but rather got on their knees and gave all of the credit for their survival and success to God.
Americans today look to many reasons why this country enjoys the freedom and prosperity that it does. In this 21st Century, much is made of the “American work ethic and ingenuity,” while others praise our country’s willingness to accommodate people of all nations and backgrounds and celebrate tolerance as the ultimate good. Many point to the opportunity offered by the American free market system that allows people to rise from rags to riches, while still others would point out how America has shared its wealth, its resources, and even its sons and daughters to secure freedom and safety in an increasingly unsafe world. While all of these ideas are fundamentally true about America, to forget to fall on our knees and bless the God of heaven, would be no less inappropriate than those lepers who failed to return to Jesus and thank him. As the most blessed nation of the world, our present generation must learn to thank God for the wealth, development, and abundant resources America has. Even more importantly, as God’s people who believe in the saving power of Christ’s death, we must offer our thanksgiving with a spirit of humility. Our attitude as Christian Americans must be that we are only giving back what is already God’s. When we share our wealth, our resources, our protection, even with people of other nations, we are giving it to God in the name of Jesus Christ.
May we as believers, purpose to never stop thanking God for the blessings that we enjoy in our country. May we acknowledge that our promise from God, as we give Him our due thanks and praise for his blessings, is for additional blessings, just like those given to the grateful leper. So, this Thanksgiving, even if the majority of Americans do not, we must bow our knee to the God of those who survived that first winter in the Plymouth Colony, and not forget to thank Him for everything we have. The hope of continued blessings on America, may very well depend on Christian Americans, who bow their knee to the God of Heaven in recognition that everything we are thankful for, and every blessing our country has experienced, is from the same God who guided the Pilgrims to come here in the first place.