Samuel Scull farms in the Arizona desert with his wife and children. One night a fierce desert storm struck with rain, hail, and high wind. At daybreak, feeling sick and fearing what he might find, Samuel went out to look things over and survey the loss. The hail had beaten the garden into the ground; the house was partially unroofed, the henhouse had blown away, and dead chickens were scattered everywhere. Destruction and devastation was everywhere around him.
While standing dazed, evaluating the mess and wondering about the future, he heard a stirring in the pile of lumber that was the remains of the old henhouse. A rooster was climbing up through the debris, and he didn’t stop climbing until he had mounted the highest board in the pile. That old rooster was dripping wet, and most of his feathers were blown away. But as the sun came up over the devastation and the eastern horizon, he flapped his bony wings and proudly crowed.
Somehow that old wet, bare rooster could still manage to crow when he saw the morning sun. There might not have been much to crow about but still, that old rooster found a way.
Many times it could seem to us that our world is falling apart. Often times we may feel that we have lost everything in our lives or at least something that is important, perhaps even the most important to us. It might even seem that, at least for us, because of our losses, the whole reason we celebrate Thanksgiving could be pointless. After all, there just isn’t much to be thankful about. Or, at least that is how we can look at things.
Our lesson this morning is a reminder to us, however, that being thankful should be something that we just set aside for one day, but instead should be an attitude that lives and prevails in us. The psalmist writes, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High...”
As I give thought to those early travelers to the Americas who celebrated the first Thanksgiving, it might well seem that there was little for them to be thankful for. One thing that I read this week said that at the most difficult period of that first winter there were only seven healthy people to provide care for all those who were sick and dying. Now they were facing another harsh New England winter. Would they survive? How could they survive in this place so far from everything they had known. And now, they were giving thanks? Thanks for what?
It seems to me that the pilgrims knew something that would learn about being thankful in difficult times. Why give thanks?
First of all we give thanks because of who God is. God is faithful to us. God stands by us and guides us even during the most difficult times. It may well be that it is difficult for us to see that God is present, but He is? We just need to look.
If you ever make a trip to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park you might notice some interesting things. Rings of tourists surround the geyser with their cameras and video cameras trained on a large hole in the ground. There is a large digital clock standing next to the hole predicting the time of the next eruption.