Summary: Will your Thanksgiving Day be more about sports and food than about thanking God?
One of the basic values of Judaism is hakarat hatov – the gratitude to others for favors and help extended to one. This concept is even embodied in the relationship of a Jew with one’s Creator. Ingratitude towards the Creator Who has granted us life and all of its attendant benefits is reckoned as being a primary sin of attitudes and bad values in Jewish ethical thought. Rabbi Berel Wein
A desire to kneel down sometimes pulses through my body, or rather it is as if my body has been meant and made for the act of kneeling. Sometimes, in moments of deep gratitude, kneeling down becomes an overwhelming urge, head deeply bowed, hands before my face. Esther Hillsume
“Gam zu l'tova. This too is for the good.” – Nachum Ish Gamzu, Talmud, Taanit, 21a
“Who is wise? One who learns from every man… Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations…
Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot… Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows.” – Ben Zoma, Ethics of the Fathers, 4:1
Lev_22:29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Col_4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
November brings us to the Thanksgiving Day holiday, which really should be known as National Gluttony Day or National Stuff Your Pie Hole Till You Can't Walk Day. ;-) It's reason to be has been lost in many places and certainly does not to seem to last past the day since we give it no more than a gratuitous prayer before we gorge. Once, my maternal grandfather must have taken a tad too long praying for a cousin. It went “Thank you, Lord, Amen. Pass the ham!” All eyes fell on the “starving cousin” who looked to well fed to be starving.
While, it is honorable and fitting to observe an annual day of thanksgiving, it is more fitting to seek to be thankful every day since God is doing far more for us than we deserve on a second by second basis. When we stand before Him and we see all His background work on our behalf we will be ashamed at our lack of gratitude because we did not get things our way especially when He shows us what a train wreck our way would have been. We will be very thankful then.
If you have more than one change of clothes, a permanent dwelling, some change in your pocket and you know where your next meal is coming from then you are richer than 85% or more of the rest of the world. I'd say that is a cause for thankfulness. Your job stinks and your Boss is a twit? Many people would gladly take your job and deal with the Boss. Be thankful. Your feet or knees hurt? Talk to the folks with no legs. All of this may sound trite, but it is true.
The poorest Americans are for the most part fat. Poor Africans are not. Indian (Bombay) women often only get two dresses in their life and if they are lucky a pair of sandals. What does you closet look like? Our poor have many places they can go to get food and clothes even if they live on the street. Some live on the street by choice. Many could do better if they chose to do so. Many in Asia can never find a way to better their condition. We need to be thankful.
God made a way for someone to give an offering of thanksgiving, but it was not commanded. It was a free will offering. God will not make us grateful or force us to thank Him, but how sad that we who have had so much for so long not only forget to thank Him, but also kick Him out of everything we can and then sing, “God Bless America.” I have a feeling that might anger Him as it is very hypocritical as well as “In God We Trust” on our money when we can't pray openly or speak His name in many places. I think we are being blest in that He has not destroyed us and taken us into captivity, yet.
If our children were such ingrates as we are, it is unlikely we would continue to do more than what is legally required of us. It is time to return to God and bow down and offer true praise and thanksgiving to Him. Indeed, if Esther Hillsume could bow in gratitude to God in a time of persecution that ultimately ended in her death in Auschwitz we need to rethink our life and bow to His grace and glory! Bad times come, but as the Talmud and Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery, “This too is for the good.” Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.