The first thought that most of us get when we hear that word is of loaded tables, turkey and stuffing, bulging bellies, laughter and talk with relatives around the food. We see commercials for the perfect turkey, ads for Thanksgiving Day Sales, and posters of sweet little pilgrims in the grocery store. Nearly everything about Thanksgiving Day in America focuses on the bounty that our country has. And I must say that for me, Thanksgiving is one of the hardest holidays to live through for one main reason: despite the holiday’s name, it seems that we never really realize how much we have to be thankful for. And we never actually put the “giving” part into action.
This afternoon we were all working in the kitchen to prepare some food for the meal tomorrow. One of the items was the traditional sweet potato. So warm and juicy with brown sugar sprinkled on top, the Thanksgiving table is never complete without sweet potatoes. However, this time I couldn’t help but remember a letter I’d received a few days earlier from World Vision.
The letter asked for my help in World Vision’s latest program: helping to end world hunger with a newly discovered jackpot vegetable, the sweet potato. The letter listed of the essential vitamins and proteins found in sweet potatoes and discussed the way they can be easily grown and harvested by people in third-world countries. And closing the letter, they asked me not to forget what I’d read. They asked that while I was eating my Thanksgiving sweet potatoes, that I remember the life-saving quality that these vegetables have.
At the time I’m posting this blog post, 9,640 children have died today from hunger. Nine thousand, six hundred and forty. That’s the entire population of a small town. And that’s just the children. In total, 25,000 people die of hunger every day. 1 person every five seconds. 175,000 every week. 750,000 every month. 30 million people every year. And even though these numbers are huge, they are each made up of individual people. These numbers are built one person at a time.
One of those numbers may have been the child in this picture. Maybe by the time help reached him, it was too late. Maybe this little boy died. And he could have been saved.
For $1 a day or less, you can save a child’s life. Seriously. Sponsorship is an easy, extremely cheap way to make a huge difference. I do it. You can do it.
During thanksgiving, remember the “thanks” part, but don’t forget the “giving” part.
When you are sitting at your Thanksgiving table, think about the massive amount of food in front of you. That food could feed an entire family for two weeks or more. It could save dozens of lives right now. Don’t push the thoughts of hungry people, the faces of starving children out of your mind. Maybe you think I’m trying to guilt you into giving money to charity organizations. It’s true. I am trying to guilt all of us into doing this because we are guilty! We are guilty of keeping so much for ourselves. God has blessed us tremendously. The fact that you have enough resources to have a computer on which to read this is evidence enough for that. God did not give us all this to keep it for ourselves. In fact, the reason He gave it to us to begin with was so that we could give it away. Whether money, food, or time, all of it is a gift to us meant to be given through us to others.
Believe it or not, God has very little compassion for those who have good things and do not give. Not only did He say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man into the kingdom of heaven, Luke also tells us, “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” And God watches everything. On Judgment Day, thanking God for all of the good times we had with His stuff is not what will gain us a reward. Instead, He will say, “I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink.”
Thanksgiving Day is not about food. And it should not be only about thanking God for the good things. Giving should flow out of our thankfulness, ultimately it should flow out of our thanks for our salvation. Everything comes back to Jesus.
Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”