Self-absorbed with so many "first-world problems," do we really appreciate the blessings God has given us?
Overburdened by “first-world problems,” are we as thankful as we ought to be?
Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:25: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”
If the Savior of all mankind says that, why am I always worried about these things? Another house payment; the furnace is getting older; food prices are getting to be ridiculous; my best suit is getting a bit frayed (have you seen what the new ones cost?). Did I mention the car?
My house. My furnace. My food bill. My suit. My car. We have these things in abundance in a world where half the population lacks even the basics to sustain life. Statistically, nearly three billion people live on less than two dollars a day. According to the United States Census Bureau, median household income in the U.S. was $51,371 in 2012—a little more than $140 per day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the “poverty line” as $11,670 for a single person; about $32 per day. For a family of four, poverty is defined as a household income below $23,850, or about $65 per day.
On November 27 this year, millions across the U.S. will sit down to a national meal that in much of the world would be compared to a king’s banquet, and in terms of calories, would feed the average family in world poverty for a week.
According to the Bread for the World Institute, 805 million people across the world are hungry. About 1.2 billion human beings live on less than $1.25 per day. Every day, more than 7,000 children die from hunger-related causes—more than four children every minute.
Jesus’ statement “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” is not going to be in the forefront of the average American mind on Thanksgiving Day. For many it will be “the game” and Christmas shopping on the day after—business as usual as we partake of the four-day holiday weekend.
How much thankfulness will take place, as families sit down to the meal and recite some memorized little prayer: “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blest—Amen”?
Abraham Lincoln, establishing Thanksgiving Day, said: “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.” President Lincoln was quoting Psalm 33:12.
In today’s America, those words would likely see him hauled into court by the ACLU, and condemned by politically correct politicians and reporters. But President Lincoln was right in proclaiming: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has grown. But we have forgotten God.… and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
What should we think about and pray for as we sit down to eat this Thanksgiving Day? If I have the opportunity to pray at such a meal, Isaiah 63:7 comes to mind: “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us… according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.”
Why? Because, really, I am thankful. The house, the furnace, the food, the clothes, yes, even the car, did not come by my superior wisdom or virtue. They are wonderful blessings from a loving God, given to me, though I live in a nation that for the most part is not keeping the word of His truth and has denied His name.