This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It’s a national holiday that once was a time for gathering with family and friends to give God thanks for the good things in our lives and for His presence with us when things are not so good.
I’ve watched a sad thing happened over the last fifty years. The original focus on faith and family has been replaced by fixation on corporate profit. The “Black Friday” sales that used to start at 5:00 a.m. on Friday now start at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. They drag employees, who often have no choice, away from family dinners even before the main course has settled enough to make room for dessert.
Business owners claim they open because the customer wants to shop on Thanksgiving Day. Perhaps many do. But waiting until Friday would let the retail workers have a day with family and friends, and the shoppers would still shop on Friday if none of the stores opened on Thanksgiving Day.
The whole process is a symptom of our times. Making money has become the only god for corporate America. Having more things has become the god for many people.
Trying to build up our own sense of worth has become the goal, and acquiring things is held up as the best way to do that. The advertisements in every media try to convince us that many things are “needs” instead of “wants” and that having them is the way to have greater worth.
We envy the “rich” because they have more than we do, but what do they really have more of?
For the most part, nothing worth being envious.
Jesus addressed this in one of his “Truly I tell you” statements in Matthew 19:23-24:
“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
My first reaction is to say, “But I’m not rich,” and I’m not when compared to a multimillionaire. But if I compare myself to even the middle class in many parts of the world, I have so much more in material goods. From the clothes in my closet to the cars in my driveway to the house where I sleep, I have so much that I should be content. I should be giving thanks for my many blessings, not worrying because I don’t have more.
And I do give thanks, but probably not as much or as often as I should. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of thinking I’ve earned everything I have by my own efforts. It’s too easy to believe I can take care of myself because I have enough money to solve most problems.
That’s the real danger of being rich in material things: assuming I won’t need God because I have enough to take care of myself.
Even as I join the mobs on Black Friday to stretch my Christmas shopping money, I need to remember that I’m rich beyond measure because God loves me and cares for me in ways I often take for granted.
It’s good to have a national holiday to remind us all that we should be thankful. My goal is to be more thankful every day so I never need a reminder.
Do you have special ways that you celebrate Thanksgiving that keep the focus on thanking God?