How many of you celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with a special meal? [How many had turkey? "Tofurky"?]
Whatever was being served, how many left the table still hungry? Or, how many had to let our their belts a notch or two?
It is a tradition on Thanksgiving, not only to have a special meal, but to feast. To go beyond merely consuming enough food to eliminate hunger pangs. We eat more than we really need, we fill up every nook and cranny of our stomachs until there’s no room left. We keep eating until we’re absolutely full, until we can’t eat another bite – and then we force down one last piece of pumpkin pie. Right? On Thanksgiving, simply put, we pig out. And we really don’t feel guilty about it. It’s part of the holiday. Grandma would be offended if we didn’t take a second helping of her special oyster stuffing. Aunt Mabel absolutely insists that we pass her homemade rolls around the table again. Besides, we’re all going on a diet right after Christmas, so what’s the difference?
Well, this morning I’m not going to get into the ethics of the Thanksgiving meal. I’m not going to try to make you feel guilty about how much you ate. If you overindulged, I’ll give you a one-day exemption from the sin of gluttony. But what I would like to do is contrast that abundance of God’s blessing and provision which we celebrated last Thursday with what we often assume He wants for us every other day of the year. On Thanksgiving, we sit down to a table groaning with food, a table surrounded by friends and family. We get up, groaning from having eaten our fill and more. We watch the children playing, children who come to us as a blessing from God. And all day long, we enjoy an abundance of leisure [most of us don’t have to work on Thanksgiving, unless you’re an emergency room nurse or a linebacker for the Cowboys]. We watch our color televisions in our warm, dry houses; we sit on comfortable sofas and recliners, we spend the day eating and drinking and talking and relaxing, and at the end we drive home in our automobiles. We give thanks on this special day for God’s abundant blessings – material prosperity, children, family, friends, leisure, health. We recognize that all of these come to us from God’s hand, that they are a gift from Him to us. And yet, it is too often the case, during the other 363 days a year, that we doubt God’s goodness; that we doubt His desire or ability to bless us; we second-guess His care over us; we act as if He can’t really be trusted to provide for us.
Too often, instead of believing that God loves us and intends to bless us, instead of believing that He knows what we need and has the power to provide it, instead of placing our trust in Him to do what is best, we do the opposite. We worry. We fret. We agonize. We toss and turn, wondering anxiously what the future holds; wondering how God will provide; wondering what God will provide; wondering if God will provide; and whether it will be sufficient. It’s almost as if, deep down, we harbor a suspicion that if we gave ourselves fully to God, our needs wouldn’t get met. As if God either wouldn’t, or couldn’t, take care of us. And so we hold back. We trust God to a point, but when it comes to making sure we have what we need – food, clothing, shelter, friends, husband, wife, children, job, career – we hedge our bets, we make sure we’re in control. That way, even if God doesn’t quite come through for us, we’ll still be OK. In other words, we aren’t living as if the God of Thanksgiving is the same God we serve and worship the rest of the year. Instead of living in confidence and joy, we’re too often living in fear and worry. It’s almost schizophrenic. On this one special day, we rejoice in God’s provision and blessing. But the rest of the year, we often act as if God might not provide, might not bless.