Thanksgiving should be a time of joy. Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (NIV).
I think it is very important to not only thank God but to praise Him for all the blessings He has given us. Now as I serve Bethany as president and travel throughout the world, it strikes me how many families live on less than $2.00 a day. They are unsure if they will eat at all during the day. I have hugged mothers whose bodies are skeletal because they are not eating to ensure their children have meals. At best, many of these families are fortunate if they eat one meal per day. In contrast, our biggest challenge in the United States is not wondering if we will eat but deciding what we will eat and how much we will eat.
Growing up, I celebrated Thanksgiving Day with my father’s side of the family. I had 25 cousins with whom we engaged in outdoor and indoor games. The entire house was turned into a banquet hall with tables set up throughout the living room, dining room, and adjoining areas to accommodate 35 family members. This was looked upon as a great time. During high school and college I worked at an evergreen and Christmas tree wholesale business. Because of Christmas tree shipping, the business was open on Thanksgiving Day. I would always decline the opportunity to work on that day because I felt it was important to set a day aside to thank God and acknowledge Him for all He had provided. In addition, it was a great family time. As parents, my wife and I continue that tradition today with our family and extend an invitation to others who do not have family to celebrate with on Thanksgiving.
When I was a child, our family would also go to church on Thanksgiving morning. Our church would provide a pre-printed envelope that had approximately 20 organizations listed on it that you could contribute to. I frequently checked Bethany Home, later to be called Bethany Christian Services. I wanted to give money to children who were not privileged to have a family or a home.
God has truly, truly blessed us. Experience giving at bethany.org/experiencegiving.