At Thanksgiving: Give Thanks to God

Amidst the obvious turmoil of the world today (war in Afghanistan; starvation and genocide in parts of Africa; Hurricane Sandy, the aftermath of national and local elections; high unemployment; and financial stress in many families, etc.) it may seem to some that there is little to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And yet it is just at times like this in the past that people have turned to our Heavenly Father God to seek help and solace from the pain and suffering of this world. As problems mount and fill all of our waking moments, it is VERY fitting that we turn to God anew this Thanksgiving season and Praise Him for what He does in this world to alleviate the pain and suffering of His children. God doesn’t create the world’s problems (we do) but He does help us work through them: we need only turn to Him.

We can and should be filled with “thanks-giving” – giving thanks to the One who breathed life into each of us; the One who created this beautiful place to live in; and the One who has given us blessing upon blessing, indeed life abundantly. While natural disasters, war, sickness and emotional heartache abound in today’s world, God’s grace, God’s hope, and God’s love offer peace to our souls for this life and the eternal life to come.

A few days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast from South Carolina up through Massachusetts, I finally was able to connect with a long-time friend who has been without power or telephone service for 3 ½ days. As we talked I praised God that my good friend was spared serious destruction from trees falling all around his property yet none fell on his house. And as I watched the news reports of destruction of homes from fires and strong winds and crashing ocean waves my heart sang songs of joy and thanksgiving for the stories of God’s children helping others in their time of need. People not only collected food and clothing for people who had moved to shelters. There were many reports of people taking total strangers into their homes and others using personal and company equipment to repair neighbor’s homes, or pump flood waters out of basements.

The words, sights and sounds of the news reports of people sharing what they had with others was truly meaningful and heartwarming. Those stories warmed my heart because they demonstrated that the love of God in God’s people is real, it’s active, and it helps one another cope with the problems of this world. In a very real sense Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbor is being lived out all around our country when times are tough and neighbors are hurting. And it’s a wonderful thing to see.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, said on his death bed “The best thing is, God is with us.” Let us be thankful and never forget that God is with us, this day and always. And God is with us this thanksgiving season and all the seasons of this life and life everlasting.

This Thanksgiving, I invite you to pause and reflect on the God of Creation who is living in this world. See Him in the eyes of your family and friends; see Him in your many blessings; see Him in the beautiful farmlands and mountains around us. See Him everywhere and be thankful.

I pray for a “Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving” for each and every one of you.

Rick Carpenter is the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Do­lores and the First United Methodist Church in Dove Creek.