Have we forgotten God? Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I say to you, 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, then why am I always worried about these things? Another house payment is coming. 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 about 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 Department of Health and Social Services, poverty for a single-person American household is considered at $33 a day. The average personal income for the U.S. is about $44,500 or $122 a day.
In October and November, Canadian and American families will sit down to a national meal that in much of the world would be comparable to a king’s banquet, and in terms of calories would feed the average family in poverty for a week.
According to the Bread for the World Institute, 759 million people across the world suffer with hunger every day. Every day, approximately 21,000 people die from hunger-related causes—mostly children. That is one death every four seconds.
Jesus’ question “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” is not going to be in the forefront of the average American or Canadian mind this year. For many, their minds will be on life’s many distractions—business as usual while enjoying a long weekend.
How much genuine thankfulness will take place as families sit down to the meal and recite that memorized little prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blest—Amen”?
Abraham Lincoln, establishing the precedent of declaring a national day of thanksgiving, wrote in 1863, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience… fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”
In today’s America, that would get him hauled into court by the American Civil Liberties Union and condemned by “politically correct” congressmen. But President Lincoln was right in proclaiming earlier that year, “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 ever 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. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
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 the wonderful blessings from a loving God, given to me, despite living in a nation which is not keeping the word of His truth and which has denied His name.