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posted Nov 23, 2009, 10:31 AM by Dan Dunbar   [ updated Dec 1, 2009, 9:22 AM ]
I am hoping that this year is really a time of thanksgiving and not thankstaking. I have been reading for weeks now from the major and minor prophets in the Old Testament, and there is a common theme that runs through all these books: God blessed his children, the children took the blessing, and then the children forgot about God. We live in a country where we have so much of everything - clothing, food, all sorts of material possessions, a place to live (some folks have more than one), cars (many have more than one), money, and good education and healthcare. Sometimes we forget how fortunate, how blessed, we are to have a place to live, clothes to wear, something to eat, clean water to drink, a school to attend and get an education, medicine to take to when we get sick, and a country with decent laws and peace. There are billions of people who do not have what we all take for granted, who go to bed hungry every night and live in fear without their basic needs being met. 

About thirteen years ago, I was working a summer job in Texas, and I crossed the border into Mexico to visit a tourist town to do some shopping. By accident, I got on a bus that took me outside the town where the people actually lived and I was shocked at the poverty and the living conditions I saw - crumbling cement block shacks with rusty corrugated iron roofs, roads that were just muddy ruts in between the trash and weed filled yards, and mangy, scrawny dogs loping around scrounging for some scraps of food. I was a little scared to be there and the residents were all wondering why I had come there. I felt guilty for haggling with the shopkeepers over already low prices for bargains when I saw how little these people had. I felt even guiltier when I crossed back over the border, got into my air conditioned van, and drove to my hotel which was a mansion in comparison to what I had just seen.

When I go to sleep at night, I often thank God that I have a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. I thank Him for what little food I have in my cupboards, for my dented up car that runs despite its looks, and for my job and my church and my family. There are billions of people who would gladly trade places with me and consider themselves extremely fortunate. All I have has been given to me by a loving God, and I sometimes wonder how it is that I am so blessed to live here in a suburb of Baltimore instead of a slum in Calcutta. Why me, Lord?

So, I am hoping that we all remember that it is a time to give thanks and not take what we have been given for granted. I hope we don't have to learn the value of what we have by having it taken away.