(1 Thessalonians 5: 12-28)
Thanksgiving! It is easy to forget, especially when our lives are so filled with other things. Perhaps that’s why we have a Thanksgiving Day; because if we didn’t, we might forget to do it? And, perhaps, it is because so many bad things hap- pen in life that it just doesn’t seem possible to be thankful in a consistent manner.
Here’s a story. “When General Ulysses S. Grant arrived in New York in 1854, after he had resigned under a cloud from the army in California, he was without funds and still far from his Ohio home. In this difficulty he wen to call on a West Point friend and comrade in the Mexican War, Simon Bolivar Buckner. Buckner generously sup- plied him with funds, so that he could reach his home in Ohio. Eight years afterward, when Grant captured Fort Donelson in that Great Civil War victory of February of 1862, the surrender was made by General Buckner, now an offi- cer in the Confederacy, the other officers having fled. In a speech delivered years later at a Grant birthday dinner, Buckner told what happened there at Fort Donelson: ‘Under these circumstances I surrendered to General Grant. I had at a previous time befriended him, and it has been justly said that he never forgot an act of kindness. I met him on the boat (at the surrender), and he followed me when I went to my quarters. He left the officers of his own army and followed me, with that modest manner peculiar to him, into the shadow, and there he tendered me his purse. It seems to me that in the modesty of his nature he was afraid the light would witness that act of generosity, and sought to hide it from the world.” (Macartney’s Illustrations, pg. 149)
God works in mysterious ways in our lives. When we experience evil, He manages that evil for good. When we suffer misfortune, He pulls us closer to Himself. No matter what the situation, God brings His grace and mercy to bear, cloaked in the mantel of His gracious love and tender mercy. Buckner was certainly not thankful for the defeat that he and his men had just suffered. But, you can be guaranteed that he was thankful in that defeat; thankful that a friend would not forget a kindness, that a foe would humble himself at the memory of a kindness long past done. Gratitude has a way of doing that. It pierces through the darkest days and calms the roughest waters. True thankfulness finds a way of pulling us out of despondency and pulling us into the light of gratitude. It simply can’t be helped. So, thank God for evil? No, evil is not a result of anything God has ordained. Evil does not come from God, but a thankful heart does. Being able to thank God even when evil happens to us is not a response to the evil but a recognition that even evil is controlled by God for our good. God will accomplish good always and for that we can be ever so thankful.
We pray with Pilgrim Leader, William Bradford:
"O Almighty and Everlasting God, we humble servants beseech Thee in our times of need. Grant us wisdom in our endeavors and strength in our struggles. May we, like the Pilgrims before us, face the challenges of life with unwavering faith and resolute determination.
As we navigate the seas of uncertainty, guide our ship of destiny with the light of Thy divine providence. Bestow upon us the grace to cultivate a land of peace and plenty, where justice and mercy prevail.
In times of scarcity, let us not despair, but rather turn our hearts towards Thee, seeking solace in the knowledge that Thy mercy is boundless. Grant us the courage to be steadfast in our convictions and compassionate in our dealings with one another.
We give thanks for the bountiful harvests and the blessings Thou hast bestowed upon us. May we be ever mindful of Thy grace and live our lives in accordance with Thy will.
In this prayer, we humbly ask for Thy continued guidance, that our endeavors may be pleasing in Thy sight. Amen."
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)