By Timothy Johnson
Thanksgiving was a few days ago. My family celebrates four big holidays a year: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July. Those holidays run over into this column as I often write about the spirit of His Birth, the resurrection, and American patriotism as the days approach.
However, with Thanksgiving, I have repeatedly pointed out how the holiday has shifted from a day of giving thanks to one of materialism. Black Friday was creeping into Thursday as stores opened on Thanksgiving Day to attract more customers. Thankfully, that trend is dying out.
This year, I want to point out a different way of looking at Thanksgiving.
Psalm 136 is a Psalm about Thanksgiving. The first and last verses of the Psalm are similar.
Psalm 136:1, “O Give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalm 136:26, “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Both verses end with “for his mercy endureth for ever.” Every verse in the Psalm ends with that phrase. Over and over and over, twenty-six times, we are reminded “for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Do not confuse mercy with grace. Grace is giving us something we do not deserve. Mercy is not giving us something we do deserve. Think of it this way – grace is God giving us a blessing, and mercy is God not allowing things to get as bad as they could be.
Throughout the Psalm, God mentions a blessing and then reminds us of His mercy. It is like God is saying, “What if you did not have this?” Example: Verse eight of the Psalm reads, “The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever.” It is a blessing to have the sun. It gives us warmth, helps the crops and other plants grow, and is an energy source. Imagine if it was not there – darkness and bitter cold. God also gives us the exact amount of sun we need. Think of our solar system. The plants closer to the sun than Earth are too hot for us to survive; those further away than us are too cold for us to live. In every act of grace, there is mercy as well.
Currently, the world is in turmoil. We should look at things we do not have this Thanksgiving and be thankful.
We do not go to bed at night, fearing that a rocket will crash through our roof at any moment, but some people do.
We do not have to wonder if there will be something good to eat in the dumpster tomorrow, but some people do.
We do not worry if our water is safe, but some people do.
We do not have a government that will dictate our life path, but some people do.
We have no concern about freezing to death in our homes this winter, but some people do.
We do not have the fear that wicked men with guns will burst through our doors in the middle of the night and kill our families, but some people do.
The list can go on, but you get the idea. With most Americans, we can be very thankful that our young people’s most significant concern is if they have a phone charger nearby.
If only that were true. In America today, the younger generation has a drug problem, a sex problem, and suicide is far too common. Smaller and smaller numbers have hope for the future. They look around and see unhappy relationships, drug and alcohol use, people with shattered dreams and false hopes, and think, “What’s the sense?”
We have plenty to be thankful for, but some people must dig deeper to find something.
People need Jesus Christ. Jesus is “the way.” The way to take, the path to follow, the road to walk. When a person trusts in the blood of Jesus Christ for their salvation, the Comforter moves into their heart, and the Prince of Peace takes over. A person can be in the middle of those worst-case scenarios mentioned above and still have peace.
Jesus is “the truth.” One reason people are all messed up is because they have believed the lies. If we all evolved from a big bang in space and came along because chemicals mixed by chance, there is no purpose behind life. There is no master plan. But, with a creator who creates with purpose, He has a plan for all of us. With physical life being a gift from God, there is value and reason to our existence. The origin of the species is a lie that the human race has embraced that erases our very purpose for existence.
Jesus is “the life.” In Christ is eternal life, but once eternal life is received, this life will make sense. As we see life through His eyes, the answers to life’s questions become more evident. Why am I here? What is the purpose of all this? As those questions find solutions, light comes to our lives, and light brings hope.
Thanksgiving has lost much of its original meaning. Also, thankfulness is more than a one-day thing. Thankfulness should be a 24/7 thing. If nothing else, we are still 93 million miles from the sun.
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Website: www.preachers-point.com; Email: [email protected]; Mail: 25 W 1200 N; Kingman IN 47952. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Timothy-Preacher-Johnson-101171088326638. All Scripture KJV.