As we approach another Thanksgiving feast, among the many things I am grateful for are those of you who read my posts in this blog. The number of views this month has been phenomenal and heartwarming, and I thank you all for the encouragement it gives me to feel the appreciation and support I draw from knowing that my words in some small way matter to you. I send my best wishes to you and yours for a most blessed Thanksgiving.
In a rare alignment of calendars, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both fall on November 28 this year, and some people are calling it “Thanksgivukkah.” The two celebrations fit together well because both are opportunities give thanks for God’s blessings and renew our trust in God to provide what we really need in life. Today’s Columbus Dispatch had a great reminder if you, like me, need a refresher course in Jewish history: “Hanukkah commemorates the reclamation by the Maccabees of the Second Jewish Temple [in Jerusalem] after it was desecrated by Syrian Greeks in the second century B.C.E. The Maccabees found only one day’s worth of suitable oil to fuel the menorah, but it miraculously lasted for eight days.”
By way of counterpoint, that great source of wisdom, Facebook, gave me a friend’s post today from Somee Cards that says, “Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”
Both stories made me pause to ask myself how thankful I really am, and how much do I really trust God to provide what really matters in life. The first line of Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” How much of what drives us in life are wants masquerading as needs? That’s an important question any time, but especially this week.
I remember worshipping several years ago at a small church in a low income urban neighborhood where material blessings were hard to come by. We sang one of my favorite hymns that day, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” During the singing of that great hymn my attention was drawn to a member of the choir, a woman who is totally blind. As I looked at the pure joy and peace on her face as we sang the words, “All I have needed Thy hand has provided,” I was moved to tears of humility and shame. How often do I throw myself a pity party for some irritating inconvenience or minor ailment, while others suffer the real “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” with grace and gratitude?
My prayer this Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and for the consumer-driven madness of Black Friday is for a simple faith in the providence of a God who takes one day’s oil and says, “Trust me. You’ve got enough.”