Summary: There are three things in this passage that will steal your joy for Thanksgiving.
Giving thanks has always been a part of God’s people.
Ill. The story is told of two old friends bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, "What has the world done to you, my old friend?"
The sad fellow said, "Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars."
"That’s a lot of money."
"But, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand free and clear."
"Sounds like you’ve been blessed...."
"You don’t understand!" he interrupted. "Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million."
Now he was really confused. "Then, why do you look so glum?"
"This week... nothing!" (From Joel Lohl, “Thanksgiving in the Land of Plenty”, SermonCentral.com).
This is a humorous story, but is indicative of how many live their lives.
God has blessed us like no other nation since Israel in their early kingdom days. We are the envy of the world. We are the richest large nation in the world.
If you make $42k a year, you are making the just average income for a household. If you make only half of that ($21K), you are in the top 11 percent of wage earners in the world.
Did you catch that? Just half of the average income in the United States is still in the top 11 percent in the world. (www.worldsalaries.org)
Yet, we are not the most happy people in the world. As a matter of fact, the 19.2 percent depression rate in the USA is second in the nations of the world, second to only France (21%). (www.huffingtonpost.com)
We often are too much like the friend I mentioned. We live in a sense of entitlement, believing that God’s loving gifts and blessings are due to us. We have become used to them and continue to take them for granted.
When natural disaster hits around the world, people are so thankful to see us sending goods and services to help. But when natural disaster hits us at home, we begin to cry, “Where is the government when we need it? Where is FEMA? Where is the aid we need?” The victims of world disasters look at us and shake their heads. Can we be more pathetic?
Now there is the move to wealth redistribution. The mantra: “No one deserves to be rich if there are poor people anywhere.” That attitude is sinful in that it creates entitlement attitudes in the less fortunate to the point that they cannot recognize the blessings of God in their lives. It is covetousness surrounded by a lack of gratitude for the place God has us. We choose to ignore His blessings and spend more time complaining what we don’t have.
This is very similar to the attitude we read about today in our passage. Look with me at John 6:25-35.
35 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?"
26 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal."
28 Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"
29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
30 So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
32 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
34 They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
The people found Jesus on the other side of the sea. What does that mean?
You see, Jesus had just fed 5000 with few loaves and fish. Then He departed to go to the other side of the sea. The people ran around the sea to meet Him on the other side. This was no small journey. Best guess, 6-8 miles.