By, Chaplain Howard Earle
The Fall season is upon us, boasting vibrant colors in the leaves just before they fall to the earth. Along with the brisk temperatures, Fall ushers in the season of gratitude. In 1621, a harvest feast was shared between Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people. This feast is believed to be the basis of our national Thanksgiving Day holiday. Time was set aside to intentionally celebrate bountiful harvest and other blessings over the year. Simply put, it is a time to openly express gratitude.
The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people were not the first to believe it was a good idea to express gratitude for good fortune. In fact, gratitude has been fundamental to our relationship with God since the beginning. Abel would bring “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock” as an act of worship of the great God who generously blesses. The scriptures are filled with narratives and episodes of expressions of gratitude. The concept of thanks comes up over 100 times in the Old Testament and over 70 in the New Testament. Eugene Peterson translates Psalm 106:1 in his paraphrase to say:
Hallelujah! Thank God! And why?
Because he’s good,
Because his love lasts
The year has been one of ups and downs, twists and turns, and wins and losses. But still, we must thank God. Consider your harvest. Maybe you did not bring in all you hoped for, but it was sufficient. Take the time to reflect over the past year and give thanks. You only made it this far by grace; give thanks. You have more than what you deserve; give thanks. You’re surrounded by love; give thanks. Why? Simply put, God is good! The search for reasons for gratefulness should never be difficult. Heed the counsel of Johnson Oatman’s hymn written in 1897:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings;
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.