His name was Dean and he was 6-years-old. It happened abruptly, but it happens all the time to 6-year-olds. One of his teeth fell out. He took that precious little treasure and put it under his pillow, expecting something in return. When he woke up the next morning, the Tooth Fairy had brought him a quarter. A few weeks later, another tooth fell out, and the same thing happened. When a third tooth dropped out, again a few weeks later, Dean had had enough. He wrote a little note and put it under his pillow. It read: “Dear Tooth Fairy: I have been a good boy. I wonder if you could give me $1 for my tooth because I could use more money.”
As you and I get ready for Thanksgiving, I wonder if we are similar to Dean in our attitudes and our desires! What about it? Do you need more money? With all of the issues going on in our country, most of us are pretty concerned about having enough money for the future. Would it not be nice for each of us to have some “tooth fairy” to help us through the difficulties of the future?
But tooth fairy or not, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is a wonderful time for family gatherings, for seeming truckloads of food, for relaxation, for football games, and for the standard “stuff”ing that goes with this traditional holiday. Oh, and did I mention a lot of food? The week or so before that, every elementary-age child (or grandchild!) will talk a lot in their classes at school about turkeys and pilgrims and Indians (er, excuse me… native Americans!) and the like.
While all that is good, I have concluded that Thanksgiving is an easy holiday to overlook. Oh sure, we always look forward to the vacation time away from school and work, but we often think of it as just one more holiday – a day off from the grind of life. The only real time we get to thinking about thanksgiving is in the few moments right before we dig into the feast that is set before us on Thanksgiving Day! Then we bow and seem to give a cursory prayer of homage to God, thanking Him for the many blessings we have been given. And I must admit that even that prayer oftentimes is a statement of pride, ‘cause we know that if weren’t for our hard work and dedication, we wouldn’t have what we DO have.
What ever happened to Thanksgiving? The Scriptures tell us that Thanksgiving is meant to be MORE than a holiday. It is a lifestyle – a lifestyle that begins with gratitude for the ultimate gift of God – his Son Jesus Christ, whom He gave as the payment for our sin. The reality is that apart from a relationship with Christ, we are, each one of us, dead in our sins. But He took the penalty for us, in our place. (Check out Romans 6:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21) Now THAT should make us thankful! Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
But even beyond that, we are to be thankful “in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), “for everything” (Ephesians 5:20), and “with everything” (Philippians 4:6,7 and Colossians 4:2). That means that no matter what happens, whether it be car problems, sick babies, or the like, whether there are good times or bad, that our hearts should be filled to overflowing with thanksgiving to God for everything He has given to us – EVERYTHING!
But wait a second! That sounds good, but…How can my friend be thankful when her husband has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, giving him only six months to live if he chooses to live it without treatment, twelve to eighteen months if he chooses to undergo the rigors of chemotherapy? Or what about the lady who a week ago was happily married and then she woke up one morning to find her husband had passed away in his sleep during the night? How can these ladies be thankful? How do they, or anyone else for that matter, claim the goodness and the promises of the Lord in times of trial like these?
I do not pretend to understand the mind of the Lord fully, but I am convinced that the Word of God is true, that Romans 8:28 is right on target when we read, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Everything we encounter in life is designed by God to work together with everything else in our life for our ultimate good and God’s ultimate glory. The individual events of life may seem overwhelming in their own right, and, without intervention and understanding, by themselves may tend to drag us into deep despair and depression, perhaps even anger and bitterness. But God is weaving them all together into a giant tapestry of beauty, designed by God to demonstrate His love and grace in a powerful and very personal way. God calls us to simply trust in Him, to confidently believe that He knows what He is doing in our lives, and will work whatever is happening into that beautiful work of art called “Life”. That, my friends, is the appetizer for thanksgiving and is His solution for us to get through the hard times of life.
In short, God wants us to be thankful at all times, and in all things. That is very easy when things are going well. But it is difficult when they are not. Those difficult times are the times when we trust Him! It’s all for our good! “Thanks and Trust” – that’s putting the “T” in Thanksgiving!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for this newspaper and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected]