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In Everything Give Thanks

Author: Josué Mora Peña

Ken McMillan, a retired Clergy of the United Methodist Church says, in relation to Thanksgiving Day, which is celebrated every year the fourth Thursday in November, in the United States, "The Pilgrims and the Puritans are often assumed to be one and the same. However, there is a significant, if subtle, difference. The Puritans objected to the emphasis of the Church of England on vestments, ceremonies, elaborate holidays and what they regarded as superstition. But they stayed with the Church and attempted to reform it, hoping to return to the simplicity and purity of New Testament times.

"The Separatists not only wanted to be rid of the above, but also wanted to do away with bishops, archbishops, and all the other authority. It was this group that got into big trouble, often leading to imprisonment and confiscation of property. They fled England, going to Amsterdam, and then a portion of them traveled to the New World on the Mayflower. Because of their journeys, these Separatists assumed the name Pilgrims.

"The Pilgrims did not invent Thanksgiving. They got it from the Dutch, who got it from the Early Christians, who got it from the Old Testament. And the first Thanksgiving Day was a few days before they even landed in Plymouth Rock. It took place in Clark’s Island where, after the terrible voyage, they felt secure from the Indians and had the opportunity to dry everything from gun powder to socks, and to prepare for landing on the mainland.

"The November date came into being in 1789, when President Washington, upon the request of Congress, issued the first national proclamation and set the fourth Thursday of November as the appropriate time. Washington filled that proclamation with no less than two dozen references to the goodness of God."

Paul says in First Thessalonians 5.18, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." This is the reason why in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a time to be with the family, relatives who come from out of town. We eat and have fellowship and, above all, we praise God and thank Him for all His many blessings.

There’s a story of a big family who was ready to eat on this special occasion. After the father prayed, he asked that everyone should say why they were grateful to God. After the father, the mother, relatives and all the rest of the family said a few words about being thankful to God, little five-year-old Johnny didn’t know what to say. There was nothing else to say, but suddenly, he stared at the turkey and said, "I’m thankful that I’m not a turkey." As you can see, there’s always something for what to be thankful to God.

Well, what are you thankful for? Most of the times we’re grateful to God when everything works well, when we don’t have any worries, when our health is very good, when there are no red lights ahead of us but only green lights, when "everything is going my way", as a singer used to sing. But what about when things begin to turn for the worse, when the thorns get in our way, when we lose our work, when we are diagnosed with cancer, when death comes and takes away one of our loved ones? Are we still thankful to God for everything?

Consider this. Her father died when she was very young. Her doctor, due to an error, left her blind at only 6-weeks old. The doctor never forgave himself. He moved out of town. Yet, Frances Jane Crosby wrote, "It seemed intended by the blessed Providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation. I could not have written thousands of hymns, if I have been hindered by the distractions of seeing all the interesting and beautiful objects that would have been presented to my notice."

Her first poem, at 8, reflects her perspective until she died at the age of 95. The following is one of her poems: "Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world contended I will be. How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t. So weep or sigh because I’m blind, I cannot, nor I won’t."

Some of her songs "To God Be the Glory," "Blessed Assurance," "Redeemed" and many others, more than 8,000, have been an inspiration to many Christians all over the world. This is real gratitude in the midst of tragedy. Now, what about you? Do we give thanks in everything? Do we thank Him for the life that He gives us, for our health, even though sometimes our health is not what it should be? But, are we still grateful to God?

Are we grateful to our Creator for saving us? Do we thank Him every day for Jesus our Lord and Savior who died on the Cross for you and me? I believe there are many reasons why we should be thankful to God, The famous Bible scholar Mathew Henry was once accosted by thieves and robbed him his wallet. He wrote on his dairy: "Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my wallet, they didn’t take my life; third, because, even though they took my all, it wasn’t much and fourth, because it was I who was robbed not I who robbed." This teaches us that even in the midst of tragedy we should be thankful to the Almighty.

How grateful are you to God? A grateful person is always happy and has a positive mind, an ungrateful person is always complaining about life. A grateful heart is a humble person; an ungrateful person reveals a proud heart. A grateful heart says, "I have more than I deserve;" an ungrateful person says, "I deserve more than I have." A grateful heart is conscious of God; an ungragteful heart is self-conscious and self-centered. A grateful heart seeks to help others; an ungrateful heart seeks to help himself-herself. A grateful heart has a full heart; an ungrateful heart has an empty heart. A grateful heart is easily content; an ungragteful heart is bitter and discontent. A grateful heart will be revealed and expressed by thankful words; an ungrateful heart will manifest itself in murmuring and complaining. A grateful heart is contagious, very contagious. Remember the story of Pollyanna, the orphan child and her cantankerous ant who didn’t want her? But Pollyanna changed everybody’s hearts with her good spirit. She introduced "The Glad Game." And everybody else became grateful.

Well, whoever you are, wherever you live, I wish for you that you have a grateful heart. Show God that you love Him. Read your Bible and study it daily, and pray to Him always. May God richly bless you and yours.

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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:32
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