This is the time when Americans observe the state of our lives and of our nation and wonder what it is for which we should be thankful. As a matter of introspect, these thanks are too often for material things. But that is not what ties it all together. Is it?
C. S. Lewis, one of the greatest minds of all time, could pack more logic into a single phrase than most could hope to achieve in a manifesto. His reasoning is clear and his point concise. For all things, be thankful.
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is “good,” because it is good, if “bad” because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” – Letters: C. S. Lewis/Don Giovanni Calabria
When Mr. Lewis wrote of “our eternal country”, be assured that he was not writing about his Great Britain or our United States of America. The atheist turned Christian was speaking of the eternal country that follows our brief respite in this world. Nothing here is permanent. Our eternal country, to which we are all destined, is either a place so amazing our feeble minds cannot fully comprehend its wonder or a place of such misery and suffering that we cannot fathom its horridness.
“Humans live in time…therefore…attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself and …to the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity…in it alone freedom and actuality are offered.”
My meager interpretation: The path I choose presently points me to my eternal place and if I choose correctly, it is in eternity that I will realize true freedom and understanding.
Of course, if you worship at the altar of Charles Darwin you have no thoughts of eternity. You have nothing steering you to choose between good or bad because in your world, there is no good or bad. You accept that you were not created. You believe you are a product of happenstance. Before you, there was nothing. Beyond you and this world, there is nothing. All things are relative. What an utterly dark, blank existence that must be. Even though you see nothing for yourself beyond this temporary existence, you still have reason to be thankful.
Be thankful that God decided that you should be born in or permitted to live in the United States of America. It is a place where the Christian value of God –given freedom and free choice, on which our nation was founded, allows you to choose any faith or no faith. You are allowed to choose your “present” path and you will not be executed for the choice unless the present you choose is capital crime and even with that you might die of old age. When you choose your present, realize that you are also choosing your eternity. Be thankful that in the USA, for now, you still have the freedom to ponder your choice.
Be thankful that you have a mind and the ability to think and reason, whether you believe it a gift of His creation or a product of random chance and evolution. You can think for yourself, although many of us clearly do not. You can make your own choices. You cannot choose your past, although there are famous and audacious cases of invented pasts. You cannot choose your future, but you can hope for it and have faith in what it holds. You can only choose your present, this moment, not the next.
Be thankful for your mind that allows you the clarity to choose. May it also give you the character to accept the consequences of your choices.
Be thankful that you live in a nation where obesity is more of a problem than starvation. It is a nation whose poor own cars, television sets, cell phones, and computers and have air-conditioned living quarters.
Be thankful that you live in the world’s most charitable nation. That is charity that originates with individuals who have chosen their present wisely and not from a benevolent government.
Be thankful for the men and women of this nation who volunteer each day to place themselves and their lives between you and anyone – foreign or domestic – who would deprive you of your freedom to choose.
Be thankful that you are in a land that is more blessed than any nation in the history of the world and that you get to choose peacefully its leaders – a most important present choice.
pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NIV)
May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving.