Be thankful for sustenance of God

Column by Dan Hettinger

Posted

It is necessary to be thankful. The Giver of all good things deserves our thanks and we need to be thankful for our own emotional health.

During this difficult season of my unemployment, thankfulness has lifted my emotions and perspective. It might seem that thankfulness is for those who have a lot so they can take a day to feast and count their blessings. But, the older I get the more I experience that it is thankfulness that gets me through the hard times and keeps my focus on my Source so I can see that God is working, even when circumstances are bad. Many years ago, thankfulness also worked for the Pilgrims.

The first Thanksgiving in New England is the most famous, but it is the second one that lets us know that thankfulness can take place even in the worst of circumstances. The daily ration of food for the Pilgrims in the winter of 1622 was a mere five kernels of corn. It seems impossible to be able to sustain life on such a small amount of food. Perhaps a nutritionist could prove that it is “humanly” impossible to live through the cold winters of New England on just five kernels of corn.

When the Pilgrims arrived in New England late in the fall of 1620 they had no idea of what they would face. The only thing they knew for sure was why they came and Who they trusted to get them through. That first winter was marked by sickness and death. They lost 47 of the first 102 that left England. The second winter was marked by the challenge of unexpected and unwanted guests that ate many of their supplies, dramatic shortfalls in food, a drought and personal struggles with selfishness.

In all of their challenges they looked to God. They prayed for wisdom in their decisions, received correction where needed in their attitudes and trusted for provisions for all their needs. God proved adequate and for the second time and each fall thereafter they set aside a time to celebrate His work by giving thanks.

Somehow God made five kernels of corn sustain the Pilgrims that bitter winter of 1621-1622. It seems that since He was going to supply their need that He could have made it easier — but then we wouldn't be talking about it today and perhaps they would not have experienced the depths of need that resulted in a heart of thankfulness.

It is natural for me to slide into wanting a more immediate, dramatic and lucrative rescue from what ails me and for all the problems of our world. Maybe you can relate. But when we become thankful, and express our thanks to God, even for our pitiful “Five Kernels of Corn,” the Source that sustained the Pilgrims sustains us. He gives hope to the underdog, the abused and forgotten, strength to the tired, the frightened, the overwhelmed and the unemployed. We learn that a little can become much and those of us with plenty are challenged to know that we are lavishly blessed at the hand of a gracious and generous God.

Let's not wait for our problems, personally or culturally, to “go away” in order to be thankful but in our seemingly insurmountable and painful circumstances let's renew our commitment to live a life, thankful to God for what we do have.

Ann Voscamp inspires us to thanks in her bestselling book, “One Thousand Gifts.” “I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.” “... the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” “Eucharisteo — thanksgiving — always precedes the miracle.”

Thanksgiving may contain the solution we are looking for. It definitely helps us experience emotional health.

Dan Hettinger is author of “Welcome to the Big Leagues” and founder of the Jakin Group, a ministry of encouragement. You can email him at dan@welcometothebigleagues.org and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@Welcome2theBigs).

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