Thanksgiving is a time for our families to get together and celebrate what God has done for us. Asthe year ends, we have the privilege to reflect on how God has led and blessed us. One of the greatest blessings anyone could ever have is family and supportive people around them. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity for people to come together and express gratitude to God.
It was in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that many have come to acknowledge as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving have been celebrated by individual colonies and states. The Christian community, and even others who may not profess any faith celebrate Thanksgiving the last Thursday of November in the U.S.
This year has been a challenging year when we consider the tragedies that so many have experienced in the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria. Many lives have been lost and many families won’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving together this year because of natural disasters and human atrocities. As we celebrate, let us remember those who are not able to celebrate with their families.
We have seen images on television of the devastations in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and many islands of the Caribbean. We have seen the horrible effects of earthquakes in Mexico. We have also been stunned by the worst massacre in U.S. history that occurred in Las Vegas. In light of these things we must intentionally make an effort to show compassion in a tangible way.
In the Bible, Jesus states: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another”—John 13:34, NKJV. This command given by Jesus transcends every age and must be a glaring reminder to all that we have an obligation to help our fellow human beings in times of need. This love, if accepted by the children of God, will motivate us to help the needy in whatever form we can.
Ellen G. White has counseled that, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me’ ”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 143.
While there are many nations where freedom of worship is prevented, this nation still allows its citizens to freely worship God as they see fit. Freedom of speech is fundamental to the health of any nation, so let us be thankful for the choices we are afforded in this nation. We don’t know how long this will last, but let us enjoy the freedom we have to worship and to be able to invite others to participate with us.
We also need to be thankful for living in a nation that is at relative peace with the rest of the world. From time to time we hear of various military threats and political rhetoric, but, thankfully, we are still enjoying relative peace in this country. Let us do whatever we can to spread love this Thanksgiving.
Let us all be thankful for the blessings God has given us and extend a hand of kindness to those who are in need. You will never regret the kindness you offer.
G. Earl Knight is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees.