Psalm 103 Blog - by Allan Yoder

How do you know that Thanksgiving Day is near? Halloween decorations are replaced by Santa Claus scenes!

I must confess that I don’t have the same warm fuzzies about Thanksgiving that some people have. I grew up in Cuba as a missionary kid and didn’t even get off school for Thanksgiving (they didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving holiday). Thanksgiving was just another school day.

For several years, I worked for a denominational conference of churches that had the tradition of holding their annual business meetings on Thanksgiving weekend starting Thursday morning! So, Thanksgiving Day was just a workday. There aren’t too many warm fuzzies about going to a denominational business meeting!

Then for four years, we had a son who wrestled in a major tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. That meant that Monday through Thursday was cutting weight time. Not the best combination with Thanksgiving eating memories!

It’s not that I don’t like Thanksgiving . . . I do. But there is something about taking a day to stop and be thankful about what we have just to turn right around the next day and begin the Christmas shopping season. One day we are thankful, and the next we focus on what we and others still want!

Somewhere the meaning of Thanksgiving morphed.

The Pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth Rock over 300 years ago didn’t have a lot of possessions. In fact, they were going through desperate times. Many of the people who lived through the voyage died during that first winter. The ship that was supposed to bring them food and useful items arrived with 35 mouths to feed but no provisions.

They didn’t have much. They knew grief and pain and hard work with little to show for it. So why do we celebrate Thanksgiving Day?

The first national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln in the fall of 1863. It was a desperate time for the nation. It was not to celebrate abundance and affluence, but to honor “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife.”

None of us has led a charmed life, at least not like we dreamed or hoped it would be. Each one of us has hurts and scars that keep us from FEELING thankful. The scars of loss, discouragement, suffering, weariness . . .

King David understood this. He wrote (Psalm 103 – NKJV): 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

This Thanksgiving let’s bless the Lord. Bless His Holy name. Remember all that the Lord has done, especially during the desperate times of our lives. Remembering God’s intervention in our desperate times is harder that you’d think! And if you are going through a desperate time, know that just as the Lord has intervened in the past, he will do so again!

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