Thanks And Another Shooting


I’m starting to lose track of all the mass shootings, but I think the massacre in the church yesterday makes three in the last two months.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Oh, sure, we still have a few weeks to pump ourselves back into the “holiday spirit.” You know, when we celebrate Family, Food, and Football.

And what’s happened to Thanksgiving? You know, the one with historical roots that grew out of gratitude?

I try to imagine what those early Americans thought when they held those early feasts. I suspect it was relief as much as anything. They had withstood. They had enough food to make it through the winter. They were going to live.

Today, we so seldom have our backs to the wall like that. Our greatest vulnerability is not the uncertainty of supplying food for the table. Generally our issues are less certain: hurricanes or tornadoes in their season, wild fires, drive-by shootings, gunmen in concerts and churches, hit-and-run drivers.

But I wonder. Though the circumstances are very different, should our reaction be? Yes, tragedy struck—in Texas and Florida and California and New York and Nevada and Texas. But today we can thank God that He has seen fit to give us life.

We are all, after all, destined to die. Though we often forget it, each day is a gift from God. We tend to get that notion reversed. We believe we “deserve” to live, and anyone who dies has had a tragedy foisted upon them.

So why would people who feel entitled then feel grateful? Are you thankful if you receive what you believe to be rightfully yours?

I find it ironic that so many who don’t believe in God still think life is their right. They believe they are an accident, that they have no eternal purpose, that they are doomed for annihilation, and that they exist only because of chance.

But yowsers! They are quite certain that life ought not be snatched from someone for any “unapproved” reason. God certainly can’t condemn wicked people to die in a flood (see the people in Noah’s day) or to die in battle against His people (see the Amalekites).

But I’m getting far afield.

Thanksgiving. I wonder. Has life become so meaningless in the twenty-first century that whenever someone asks us what we’re thankful for, we don’t automatically think first and foremost that we’re grateful for another day of life?

Here in America, the tradition was to sit down as a family for meals, always offering thanks first. Thanks became “grace” and then it faded away (along with family meals, I suppose).

I don’t think thanks should be relegated to a tradition, and apparently that’s part of what Thanksgiving Day suffers from. But I suspect it also suffers from a change in our hearts that steals gratitude and replaces it with a sense of “deserve.”

Of course, I suspect for those who do not believe in God, it’s hard to be grateful for a new day of life. After all, to whom are they grateful? It seems to me that gratitude is a two way street. You are responding when you express gratitude. And if all we have is only because of chance . . . well, then, it kind of reduces Thanksgiving to the three F’s.

But the truth is, God does give life, and more so, He gives abundant life and eternal life. He pours out His love in countless ways that we’re often too preoccupied to recognize. Sure, we maybe bought our food in the grocery store instead of growing it and harvesting it, but does that make it any less a miracle, any less a provision from God’s hand? He provides the growth, the harvest, the preparation, the packaging, even though it might be out of my sight. He provides the money to pay for it all.

And that’s just one aspect of our lives. What about the air we breath? the knowledge we now have about how to care for our health? the sleep we enjoyed that gives us needed rest? And I haven’t even mentioned the things we get to enjoy in this life.

We are blessed every day we open our eyes and put our feet on the ground, and we have every reason to praise and thank God for seeing fit to give us another day.

Life is pretty much a miracle. Even if we didn’t have wicked men and women doing wicked things, even if we didn’t have natural disasters that interrupt the regular aspects of life. We live on a planet that is as fearfully and wonderfully made as is each of us with our coded DNA that makes us who we are.

In short, God made life and He made life possible, and what He made was good. We are right to thank Him for it. Every day.

Published in: on November 6, 2017 at 5:26 pm  Comments (6)  
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