While today’s column will be focused on thankfulness, will contain a story about someone who never lost his faith and possibly a quote or two about being thankful, I’m going to approach this year’s Thanksgiving column from a different direction by addressing the question: When is it OK NOT to be thankful?
It’s Thanksgiving week. At numerous newspapers around the nation this week columnists will sit down at their keyboards, put their creativity in neutral and do the predictable.
They’ll crank out copy that urges their readers, somewhere between their first slice of turkey and last piece of whipped cream-covered pumpkin pie, to remember just how fortunate they are and be thankful.
Their column will contain at least one or more quotations about thankfulness and maybe a heart-warming story about someone who remained thankful in the face of adversity. How do I know all this? It’s in the “How to be a Columnist Handbook” in the chapter entitled “Handling Holidays.”
And while today’s column will be focused on thankfulness, will contain a story about someone who never lost his faith and possibly a quote or two about being thankful, I’m going to approach this year’s Thanksgiving column from a different direction by addressing the question: When is it OK NOT to be thankful?
My exploration of the topic of thankfulness started on the Internet. Would you believe a word search on “thankful” generated 75.1 million hits? After exploring three sites - not 3 million, just three - I went in the opposite direction, typed in the word “unthankful,” hit return and waited. That search generated only 426,000 hits. I found it surprising that a majority of those sites were religion-based, explaining the sinfulness of an ungrateful heart.
I can’t help but think that thankfulness might be in short supply in more U.S. households than normal this Thanksgiving.
The sour economy will make this year’s stuffing a little harder to swallow than normal. “Gee kids, Mom and/or Dad have just been laid off! Let’s be thankful!”
In homes where people have been closely monitoring their 401K, their rate of thankfulness will likely be falling faster than the stock market. Even in the best of times, there are always tried-and-true reasons for people to not feel thankful: Loss of their health; death of a loved one; separation from their family.
As I was preparing to write this column, I happened onto a story of a man who could have easily been the poster child of “unthankfulness” after his sweet life turned bitter almost overnight. This individual had it all. He enjoyed good health, was extremely wealthy, was blessed with a large family and was well thought of in his community.
However, within a 24-hour period, much of this man’s possessions were either stolen or destroyed. His family was all but wiped out by a tornado. Not long after, the man’s health failed, both physically and emotionally. Seeing his good fortune disappear, his friends did likewise. Even his wife rejected him.
Amazingly, this man who literally lost everything but his life, never lost his faith.
The star of our story is a man who lived approximately 4,000 years ago. His name was Job. And while Job’s life is frequently cited as example of faithfulness to God, I believe Job was a man who frequently counted his blessings, even when the number of them dwindled.
If you’re at a point in your life where you feel justified in not being thankful, I pray these words will help: He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.