Thanksgiving Day: “A national holiday set apart for giving thanks to God” (as defined in Webster’s Dictionary). Over the years, in my way of thinking, this definition has been watered down by many to mean travelling to family and friends, dinner around the dining room table and watching football games. There is nothing necessarily wrong with these three activities, other than they may take away from the real reason why Thanksgiving was declared a holiday.
Each of us acts differently in what we are thankful for, especially depending on what life has brought us. I have known two types of people. The first type includes people that have one (or usually several) of the following encounters during their lifetime: loss of family members, car accidents, illnesses, marital problems, depression, disappointment, job loss, financial difficulties, etc. These people make it through their trials and tribulations and remember James 1:2-4 when James addresses believers in Jesus Christ: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Many from this group of people will say: “Lord, why me? You have blessed me so greatly!”
The second group of people may be faced with the same problems as above, but either does not know Christ or are not very mature believers and are bitter. They may say: “Lord, why me? I don’t deserve all the trials that have come my way!”
Which group will you exemplify? I suppose that many of us won’t be able to answer that question until the time arrives when we are most severely tested. The ultimate question is whether or not Jesus cares. This is answered by a hymn written in 1900, the lyrics by Reverend Frank E. Graeff and music by Joseph Lincoln Hall (my grandfather). Reverend Graeff was in despair and defeated until he listened to the hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus,” and then wrote: “Does Jesus Care,” as shown below, after which he became known in the Philadelphia area as the sunshine minister.
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for
mirth and song; as the burdens press, and the cares distress,
and the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark with a nameless
dread and fear? As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
does he care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed to resist some temp-
tation strong; when for my deep grief I find no relief,
Though tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodby to the dearest on
earth to me, and my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks-
is it aught to Him? Does he see?
Refrain: Oh, yes, He cares; I know he cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
when the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Saviour cares.More history of the hymn and a singing of it can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTo56MXeFWM.
We give thanks oh Lord, for all your blessings!
Jeff Hall, of Honey Brook, contributes columns to Berks-Mont Newspapers.