It always amazes me how many people don’t know that Italy doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. But it fills me with sadness too, because it shows that many people don’t really know what Thanksgiving is.
Thanksgiving is a distinctly North American holiday, inspired by Pilgrim celebrations. (Learn more at History.com). So considering Italy has never had Pilgrims, native Americans, or all the rest, it how would it have gotten a Thanksgiving?
But it’s sad that so many Americans don’t really know about Thanksgiving. And even sadder that many who say they celebrate it never take a moment to give thanks. Or to even feel gratitude in their hearts. And perhaps this becomes more true as time passes.
Lots of people these days are asking, “Thanksgiving? What have we got to feel thankful about these days?”
How can we give thanks when the world is crumbling around us? And death and war surround us? How can we feel grateful with fear-filled hearts?
It’s hard world we live in. An ugly world, in which ugliness is coming out more and more strongly. Clear signs, surely, that Christ’s second coming draws ever closer. People ask how a just God can allow evil to continue. And the answer is: he won’t. He’s only allowing it for a time, waiting for people to turn to him. But the day will come when he will say, “Stop!”
But until that day — how can we celebrate Thanksgiving in this world gone so wrong?
We think one answer lies in David’s encouraging words.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
David knew fear.
And he knew what it meant to have trouble on every side. In fact, scholars think David penned Psalm 27 while in exile. Driven out and abandoned. His son was trying to take the throne. And enemies chased and threatened on every side. David had indeed reached a low point.
Yet David celebrated with songs of praise AND declared that he would continue to do so. Why? And how could he do it?
Because he knew that the Lord protects us, hides us, and keeps us safe. The Lord answers our prayers, helps us, and is good to us. And even if everyone else deserts or rejects us, the Lord never will. He will continue to keep us safe. And David had seen all this and more, many times in his life.
He knew the Lord is a shelter IN the storm. A strong fortress IN times of distress. And a hiding place IN a world gone wrong. And this made David able to trust even the future to God. And to declare that he would always give thanks and praise, come what may.
So this year, let’s thank the Lord not only for his faithfulness, care, and protection — both in the past and for today. But let’s thank him for the future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, (Jeremiah 29:11)
God will not leave us hopeless, and that’s something to truly be thankful for!