Monday, November 28, 2011

Would You Still Be Thankful?

I sent this Thanksgiving message to my friends via email, and thought I'd share it here as well (just in case I forgot anyone!).

Hello Friends,

"I am thankful for..."

Ah, the phrase we often hear around this time of year.  We count our blessings, number off the things we are grateful for, and then celebrate over a feast of turkey and pumpkin pie.  A generic list of blessings usually includes: family, friends, home, health, possessions, food, etc., and oftentimes, the "I'm thankful for" line turns into a cliche and is reduced to nothing more than holiday tradition.  

But, I will ask, for the sake of asking, "What are you thankful for?"  Take a moment, pause, consider what you are truly thankful for - the most precious treasures in your life.  Have them in mind?  Okay, good.

Now let me ask: 

What if they were gone next Thanksgiving?

Perhaps, like me, the greatest blessing on your list is your family.  The thought of my family - any member of my family - being absent next Thanksgiving is almost unbearable.  How deeply would I miss my sweet siblings, my wonderful parents, and the precious times we have together.  What would I do without them?  

Could I still be thankful?

Another large item on my own list is health.  Despite a few allergies and the occasional cold, I must admit I have been blessed with good health.  What if next Thanksgiving finds me in a hospital bed, struggling to battle a precarious disease?  What if I were given a few months to live?  What if I am inflicted with continuous, excruciating pain from some illness?

Could I still be thankful? 
Shelter and security.  Huge item.  How I take for granted a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, the confidence of a house to "come home" to after long trips.  What if a year from now I am without a home, without a safe place to sleep, or even without some sort of shelter of protection from the elements? 

Could I still be thankful?

How about freedom?  Imagine with me next year not being able to worship inside a church building, being banned from fellowship with other believers, not allowed to homeschool or be a traditional family.  What if I'd be imprisoned for my "radical" beliefs, stripped of the religious freedom I hold so dear?  

Could I still be thankful?

The list can be extended with further blessings: food, technology, music, etc. etc., and still the question remains: Could I still be thankful?

If everything was taken away from you, could you still find reason to be grateful?  It is easy to be thankful when all your needs and comforts are fulfilled, but much harder to say "I'm thankful" when challenged by extreme trials.  Oftentimes the definition of "Blessed by God" is dependent on our comfort level, rather than our contentedness.

So this Thanksgiving season, I challenge you to examine yourself: Are you really grateful?  Are you really content or are you comfortable?  If next Thanksgiving found you without the blessings you listed this year, could you still praise God and say, "Yes, Lord, I am truly grateful for Who You are and what You've done, and the blessings You have given me"?  It's something we all must consider.

"...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11b-13)
" thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 5:20)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In His Love,
Taylor Garms

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