By Paul Bawden
Would you believe? Thanksgiving season is here again, with Thanksgiving Day this week. Where has the time gone?
Regardless of the quick passing of time, in this season set aside to give thanks, the only question to ask is: Why give thanks?
The reason to give thanks is that as individuals none of us is sufficient and efficient in and of ourselves, even though we might think so at times. For in our world, we are dependent on one another in our individual relationships, our family relationships, at our work, and in our interactions with others, especially those who are our first responders as well as our military personnel.
As we think about those who have touched our lives, our response can only be, “Thank you.” That’s horizontal thanksgiving. It’s what we teach our children from a young age, to be grateful, and to say, “Thank you,” to those who touch their lives in their family and others as well.
But there is the other side of giving thanks. It’s vertical thanksgiving. It’s thanksgiving that gets into the area of theology – bringing up the subject of God. Of course, atheists and agnostics only live in the world of horizontal thanksgiving. There are different Gods that other people relate to in this area of vertical thanksgiving depending on their personal persuasion.
In the midst of these thoughts, I ask, “Is there an eternal Source of all the blessings of life we experience each day?“ The only one I know is the One who is described as “Even from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:1-2). This is the personal eternal and biblical God who is our personal Creator, giving us physical life, and the very air we breathe. He has come into time in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has won for us His forgiveness and eternal life which we all desperately need.
Those who respond in faith to Him as their Savior realize that He is the Source of all they have (I Timothy 6:17). Knowing the biblical God has blessed him spiritually, materially, physically, along with family and friends, the believer in Christ can only give Him thanks for all that He has done for him, while giving thanks horizontally for all who have touched his life. That’s why the Psalmist penned (Psalm 107:1), “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; his steadfast love endures forever.”
However, it’s easy to give thanks to the Lord when all is going well in one’s life. When life is challenging physically, materially, and in other ways, or one has lost a loved one through Covid, an accident or some tragedy, giving thanks is certainly difficult, and one may only wonder about where God is. Especially, in the tragic event in Waukesha, Wisconsin, which shocked the community, where a man drove his SUV through the Christmas parade killing at least 5 people and injuring 48 individuals at the time of this writing. It’s hard to believe someone would even do such a horrendous act.
Certainly, we need to pray for the Lord’s peace and comfort for the families who lost loved ones and for healing for those injured. Those who lost loved ones and were injured will need time to process this event, and for healing to take place in their lives emotionally and physically. Regardless, sad to say, life will not be the same for them. Thanksgiving Day will not be easy for them to say the least. That’s why, as we pray for these families, we should pray that they will recognize that God is there with them and loves them in the midst of their pain, loss, and healing, and provides them His hope in this indescribable tragedy caused by this man’s senseless action. He is certainly responsible for what he did.
May all of us, regardless of what is happening in our lives, give thanks to the Lord in this season, for His love for us, knowing nothing or no one can separate the believer from His love which lasts forever (Romans 8:38-39).
Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.
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