Some random impressions have come together to help shape my Thanksgiving experience this year. The first comes from the political debates swirling around us as we move toward a Presidential election year. The two parties seem to have radically different economic policies, but it struck me that everyone’s for the “redistribution of wealth.” They just want it redistributed in their direction. This rather cynical thought is leading me to focus in my thanksgiving more on being grateful for God’s generic goodness, poured out on all people and his entire creation, rather than fixating on my personal blessings that others may not have.
This seems to fit into the lyrics of a song from one of Dionne Warwick’s albums:
When the sun is warm where you are, and its comfortable
and safe where you are, Well, its not exactly that way all over.
There’s somewhere in the world someone is cold. Be aware!
And while you’re feeling young, someone is old. Be aware!
And while your stomach’s full, someone in this world is hungry.
When there is so much, should anyone be hungry?
When there’s laughter all around me, and my family and friends
surround me, If I seem to be forgetful, remind me
That somewhere in the world people are weak. Be aware!
And while you speak your mind, others can’t speak. Be aware!
And while your children sleep, somewhere in this world a child is homeless.
When we have so much, should any child be homeless?
Oh, no, not even one child. Be aware!
Then I came across an article by Brandon Robertson, a young Christian thinker, that concluded with these provocative words:
“As the Scripture reminds us, to whom much has been given,
of him much is required.
May we who have been lavished with Divine Grace
be those who embody and pour out Grace
in every sphere of our lives.
To our friends. To our families.
To our worst enemies. And everyone in between.
Grace . . .That forgives freely. Blesses abundantly.
Radical. Powerful. Offensive Grace.
It will save us all.”
“Offensive Grace”? When is grace offensive? When it interferes with your turkey-and-stuffing indulgence at your Thanksgiving meal. When thoughts of people who don’t have what you enjoy interrupt your enjoyment.
There’s a series of proverbs that deal with various aspects of greed in the face of poverty:
“Anyone who tills the land will have plenty of bread, but one who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. The faithful will abound with blessings, but one who is in a hurry to be rich will not go unpunished. To show partiality is not good— yet for a piece of bread a person may do wrong.
The miser is in a hurry to get rich, and does not know that loss is sure to come. The greedy person stirs up strife, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be enriched.
Those who trust in their own wits are fools; but those who walk in wisdom come through safely. Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but one who turns a blind eye will get many a curse.”
(Proverbs 28:19-22, 25-27)
It’s interesting to notice that the antidote presented is not total self-denial, but a properly balanced set of priorities and healthy attitudes. Hard work (“tilling the land”), faithfulness, patience (not “in a hurry”), fairness (not “showing partiality”), “trust in the Lord,” “walk in wisdom.” If you live your life that way, you can eat your turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie in satisfaction and peace.
— George Van Alstine