Often, a movie or television program with characters contemplating the Thanksgiving holiday, will include one character encouraging the other(s) to “say what you’re thankful for,” usually, with no reference to whom one should be thankful. This is entirely consistent with an increasingly secular culture that regularly uplifts creation and ignores Creator. It flies in the face of a true Thanksgiving,
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)
During the First Gulf War, in 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, while conducting a briefing, made reference to intelligence gathering by defining three categories, “… There are things we know we know… we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also… the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” That seems a good way to illustrate three types of blessings for which we can be thankful to God in this year, or at any time.
First, are the evident blessings of which we are readily aware — this has to begin with a relationship to God, Himself, based upon His parameters,
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (I Timothy 2:5)
Then, blessings such as family, friends, health and a country that still affords us, in relative terms, great freedom, come to mind. We should also see ourselves in light of the rest of the world and realize that our material and economic blessings are also cause for great thankfulness. Secondly, with just a little thought, we realize God’s kind providence manifested in things that didn’t happen to us — illness, accidents, etc. This also includes plans, goals and desires that did not materialize for us and, in the end, we see blessings in not having those things that we did not see in the beginning. Finally, as we contemplate God’s hand in the events of our individual lives, while He works His Eternal Decree for all time and all peoples, we realize that we have no idea of all that happens (and doesn’t happen) around us each day. Put simply, we can thank God that He is in charge!
If, then, we can cultivate a spirit of Thanksgiving for the whole year, we are more likely to understand the Grace of God in our lives. Thanksgiving is Graceliving — transformation in us is manifested in how we treat our neighbor… and the stranger, as well. Interpersonal relationships in America have hit a low and continue their precipitous slide. A true extension of God’s Grace to those about us transcends a shallow and phony lip-service that has become a felt obligation in a society awash in consumerism, a poor successor to the tried and true value of service. Furthermore, extending God’s Grace to others means adopting His standard of justice,
“… what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)
We must see others as God sees us, individuals, made in His image, not a cog in the machinery of an identity group. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) is a much higher (and tougher) standard than the impersonal synthesized guilt demanded by “social justice” as the cultural currency. To sum it up, the virtue signaling we encounter everyday is counterfeit and a poor substitute for true virtue.
These are just a few thoughts that I have been considering as we approach this unique holiday that signals the beginning of the Christmas season; I hope you will consider them, as well. Thank you for taking time to do so.
God bless and Happy Thanksgiving,
SC Senate, District 9
Laurens and Greenville Counties
Chairman, Medical Affairs Committee