Sometimes it is hard to be thankful. You know that there is so much that you have that you don’t deserve, and yet, at the same time, you just can’t seem to get the words “Thank you” to come out. At least not with any conviction.
I’ve recently been struggling through the book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. Much of what I thought about the founding of this nation has been shaken to its core. It’s mindboggling to imagine that, only a couple hundred years ago at most, our ancestors were calling the natives of this land “savages” and raiding their villages, slaughtering them as if they weren’t even people, cutting the women’s privates out, mutilating the men’s genitals, and taking infants, throwing them into feed bins on wagons, taking them into the deserts and leaving them there to die. And today we commemorate the story of how the Original Americans helped the pilgrims to survive. It’s hard to be thankful.
It’s hard to be thankful for family when they just seem to be out to get you; when they seem to ignore everything that you say; when they seem disinterested; when they don’t seem to want to help. And yet, without them, I wouldn’t be in this world. It’s hard to be thankful.
Tomorrow is “Black Friday” as it has come to be known. We go from a day of giving thanks for all of God’s provisions to immediately saying, “But it just wasn’t enough. We must get more. And we MUST get it before that fat-ass over there does!” It’s hard to be thankful.
God has given me a wonderful wife, a roof over our heads, food on the table, a stable job, and yet I find it so hard to be thankful. Is this bad? Is there something wrong with me?
The self-righteous brand of churchfolk would say yes. They would tell me that I need to repent of my ungratefulness and turn to God and thank Him for all the wonderful things He has given me.
I tend to disagree. The Psalmist didn’t feel thankful all the time. The Psalmist didn’t put on a facade of happiness and joy when he wasn’t in that mood. No. He spoke the truth, and, in so doing, came to a greater understanding of himself and his relation to the Creator.
Maybe that is why we feel the need, even as Christians, to become engrossed in the consumerism of Black Friday. It’s not that we aren’t thankful, but that we hid the fact that, on Thanksgiving Day, we weren’t feeling thankful. We have hidden the fact that we only had a turkey and all the other junk because it’s what we’re supposed to do. It has become tradition. We do thanksgiving rather than live thanksgiving.
Kind of sounds like church doesn’t it? We do church rather than live church.
It’s not that we’re unthankful, it’s just that we want more than just another feast. We want something lasting. We’re not unthankful, just too easily pleased.
I am thankful for what God has given me that I don’t deserve. I am thankful for the land that God has chosen to place me in. I am thankful for my family. I am O so thankful for my wife, a roof, enough food, a steady job. But I don’t feel thankful.
Maybe, as I help people purchase gifts for their friends and families tomorrow, I will find more than a feast. Maybe, as I struggle through Black Friday with my fellow employees, I will learn to live thanksgiving. Maybe, just maybe, others will learn to do so too.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 HCSB)