GIVE THANKS EVERYWHERE
(Article for the 11/4/2015 issue of The Seward County Independent)
By The Rev. Dr. Daniel K. Schroeder, Pastor
Mighty Fortress Ev.LutheranChurch
The other day, I decided to try an interesting experiment. I had to drive across Lincoln during heavy traffic. That's better than a half-hour trek, and I thought I would put the time to good use. So I decided to be on the lookout for, and otherwise focus upon things for which I am thankful.
If you've driven through Lincoln lately, you know there is always something about which to complain. There are the lane closures, street closures, heavy equipment always in the wrong place at the wrong time, rough pavement, uneven roads, etc. This produces all kinds of traffic jams, mis-queues, tie-ups, and accidents. It can be too wet, too cold, too foggy, or under some other effect of nature. And we can add to the list the problems that other people cause, whether it is another motorist or a pedestrian, or somebody else.
In just four sentences, I've probably given you enough separate topics to bring to mind a variety of instances that would be grounds for complaint. In fact, it is relatively easy to find things about which to complain without any prodding at all!
So let's erase all of that. Let's strip away all of those grounds for complaint and see what we have left. Let's see what is out there for which I was thankful.
The first thing I noticed was a street sign. I remember years ago when the street signs were written with white letters on a solid black background. They were smaller and hard-to-read, especially at night. Now the signs are reflective green with white lettering. Driving down an arterial, the signs for the cross streets have become larger. And if you're at an intersection with a traffic signal, the street sign is huge and hangs right next to the light on the cross arm. I am very thankful for these better street signs!
The street was in good condition too. I didn't have to dodge all the pot holes that ruined three of my tires this spring. Resurfaced areas were smooth as well, almost like driving on a cloud. Yes, I'm very thankful for smooth streets that are in good repair.
Indeed, there are so many things for which we can be thankful. The autumn colors are especially nice this time of year. The sunsets are gorgeous. The sunny days and warm temperatures are a welcome contrast to the cool nights. And when we take an eraser to all those things that would cause us to complain, we can see that there are a lot of exceptionally nice things that can get clouded over with a negative attitude.
As we look at the bigger picture, we know that God has given us a lot for which we can be thankful. And that's the way we, as his children are supposed to live our lives. We are to be thankful to God who has provided everything.
Let's look at what the Bible has to say. The book of Psalms is literally overflowing with words of thanks to God. Psalm 118:1 says it nicely: "O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever." In the New Testament, Jesus gives thanks to God when he fed the 5,000. At the Passover meal, Jesus gave thanks when he gave his disciples the bread and the wine. We can find instance after instance of someone giving thanks to God all through the Bible. That in itself should be a lesson for us.
But we live in a world that is often not pretty or positive. We live with the fear of whatIsismight do tomorrow, or the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Schools have to keep their exterior doors locked for fear of violence from a sociopath with an assault rifle. Locks, alarm systems, and other security related items have become all too ubiquitous.
That's because we live in a sinful world. But Jesus came to this earth to change all of that. The best example of God's love for humanity can be seen in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Through faith alone in him, we find the solution for sin in our lives. When we come to him in faith, we know that he will receive us just the way we are. We will find love, acceptance, and forgiveness in his waiting arms. We can be eternally thankful for that.
The negative things of this world have the tendency to overshadow those things for which we can be thankful; so we need to always look beyond the negative to see the positive. In Philippians 4:6-7 we read: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
May God grant you all a most blessed Thanksgiving!