By Angela Bosfield Palacious
WHILE our neighbours to the north celebrate Thanksgiving this month, we continue to have harvest thoughts as well, so that it all speaks to us of being grateful. Jeremiah writes: “But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.” (Jeremiah 5:23-25)
How often do you look at the news with tears in your eyes as you watch the suffering of souls just like ourselves but who happen to live in a different place at this time? Does it move you to pray for them on the one hand, and to thank God that your experience is so different on the other? A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God. (Jeremiah 3:21 NIV).
We have never had an actual war on our soil if we discount the Spanish-British skirmishes that kept changing ownership of our islands. We do not know what bombs sound like falling from our skies. We do not have the sound of marching boots pounding our streets or tanks patrolling our roadways. We are blessed not to have borders that permit invading armies to attack us in the night. Yes, our Defence Force officers, police, immigration, and customs officers are waging war against drugs, crime and undocumented migrants, but it is not the same as war in our backyards.
The prophet Obadiah talks about the terror of invasion: “On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, or gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble.” (Obadiah 1:8-14).
Our stores overflow with items for sale and we are free to choose whether to purchase them here or abroad. Some of our people are indeed in dire straits, but a good number are living a good life. We have much to be thankful for, even as we are to reach out to assist those less fortunate than ourselves. The next time you look in your refrigerator or cupboard, give God thanks for every item that you see and see how long it takes to say thank you to God.
Next, move to each drawer and the closet and start being grateful for each item of clothing, pair of shoes and accessories that you own. If you were to take inventory for insurance purposes of every piece, I wonder how much paper you would require. Add to the list every book and magazine, along with cell phones, computers, laptops, iPod and iPads. Let household items, furniture, appliances, vehicles and property complete the itemised list.
Leaving material things behind, what about our five senses, health, appearance and elusive qualities such as intelligence, spiritual maturity, general well-being, training, skills, hobbies, experience and expertise? To know how to pray, to be free to worship, vote, travel, drive, congregate, speak about authorities and all the other civil liberties that we so easily take for granted, are precious dreams waiting to be realised if we live elsewhere.
Yes, there is much that is not well but let us pause to count our blessings, and evaluate our present condition with a view to being grateful. Just to know that we are loved by God is an immeasurable comfort. We can always give thanks for Jesus.
At this time, we can start to make lists of what needs to be changed and see how we can go about talking to persons who may be able to make a difference. Having measured how far we have come and given thanks for past achievements and present blessings, we can work to improve the standard of living for every person who is struggling to survive.
Always give thanks with a grateful heart.
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.