We celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago with our extended family at my sister’s home. Amid some football, heavy over-eating, and a few toy sword fights with the little’s, I had a chance to ponder a pretty simple but profound question: now what?
It is interesting to think about Thanksgiving in a secular sense. We are a Christian family farm (it should be noted that we don’t put on airs by pretending to be perfect Christians. I’ll need to write another blog on why certain words in my lexicon are labeled by the Little Man as “combine words.” We all need Jesus, especially our imperfect family.). As a Christian, we rightly should be thankful for everything. Father God, Creator of everything, thought enough about me to give me the breath of life, then to save me from my own sinful nature via his Son, and then to bless me with abundance. The last one is what humbles me most. Farming is not an easy life…but in comparison to most of the surrounding world, it is abundant indeed. We have hard work, but luxuries waiting for us at home, notably running water, heat (or air conditioning), electricity and constant entertainment via television, internet and our phones (the latter is also a curse if left unchecked, admittedly). I can’t tell you how many times, even though it is probably not enough, I’ve stood in the shower with hot water coursing over my beaten, tired body after a hard, long day on the farm thankful for such a simple luxury of running water.
But then I ask, now what?
Thanksgiving isn’t really a true Christian holiday in the United States despite its obvious Christian origins. It’s usually a few days off work with a large feast in the middle of the week on Thursday where family congregates—sometimes the only time in a year when the extended family meets. You see secular thoughts—the “feel good” stories that typically aren’t premiered on the major news networks are a good telltale sign Thanksgiving is here—in the dominant culture all around. You also see those “feel good” thoughts used as a shoe in the door to your wallet via deals like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and so on (editor’s note—we also have a Black Friday Deal—try “Holiday19” on our website; so I can’t condemn the commercial side of this). But I go on, now what?
You see, we should really be thankful all year round. Our pastor at church led Thanksgiving Week with 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which has good advice for all of us—Christian or not.
Give thanks in all things; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
Our pastor likes to bring up the fact that “all” is translated in Greek as “all,” meaning there is no ambiguity in that one word’s translation from the original language. Shouldn’t we be thankful outside of one holiday with a large meal as the focal point? Academically, I think all of us (Christian or not) would say “duh, yes.” But how much do we focus on it? And here’s where the “Now What?” point I’m pondering comes full circle: what about the times that don’t go as planned? Bluntly, what about the times that—you know–suck? How thankful was I when my corn and popcorn was planted historically late this spring (ha, almost summer actually)—you know, the latest spring in 40 years for farmers? How thankful was I when I harvested our organic white corn, the first year of certification, and it was a COMPLETE AND UTTER DISASTER? How thankful have I been the last month while struggling to finish harvest and watching a mountain of unpaid bills and disorganized office work start to choke my personal time with family in the evenings? All things, Andrew, all things…
In a secular sense, failure can be called a lesson learned advanced toward success. In that sense, these trials or “hard knocks” can and do strengthen us. A better cliché is that whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. From my Christian worldview, I know these trials draw me closer to Christ and refine my skills and use for God’s kingdom (as well as being refined into a better father, husband, businessman, and worker).
I also highlighted the “you” in the passage above because I appreciate the emphasis this scripture has on the individual. In both the secular and Christian sense, this is a personal decision: to be thankful regardless of the situation. This might be the best answer I can conjure in my turkey/ham/mashed-potato laden mind for my question of “Now What?” That’s entirely up to me.
Not to cross holidays with a premature New Year’s Resolution, but I want to resolve to be thankful in “all things.” The good and the bad, the fun and the stress, the inspiring and the daunting. I’d challenge you to do the same.
Happy Thanksgiving today and for the year to come,
We are thankful for you reading this blog. We hope that our #awesomepopcorn gives you reason to #makememoriespop with your friends and family.