Psalm 136

PrayerOn this day set aside for the specific purpose to thank Almighty God for His sovereign providence in our nation (see George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation) it is appropriate to reflect on His grace and goodness for allowing us to live in this glorious experiment in liberty and to realize that our place here in this great nation is not a right, but it is a sacred honor and trust. In these uncertain times filled with economic upheaval, foreign policy fears and moral crisis on every hand, there is peace in knowing that no matter the conflict and turmoil that surrounds us, our God is in control (Psalm 73:26). We may not understand His reasons behind them, but we must remember that if we did understand all of His ways, then WE would be God! (This is what drives the new atheists crazy. They have this misguided notion that somehow if there is a God, he has to live up to their standard! But I digress.)

We have so much for which to be thankful. The fact that God has given us life in the first place is enough to praise and thank Him forever. Even as simple as the air we breathe, the food we eat, our families, our friends, our churches, any good things that come into our lives are reasons to give all of our praise and adoration to our Almighty God. So it is especially gratifying when I am reminded of these things in peculiar ways.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of 70’s and 80’s light rock music. Bands like Toto, Chicago, Journey, and the Doobie Brothers are a staple of what I listen to on my iPod. Thanks to Netflix, I have been able to watch and enjoy several music concerts and music video collections on DVD, including concerts by Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Toto, Michael McDonald, & Kenny Loggins and found this is a great way to rediscover what it was that drew to their music in the first place. As a musician myself, the whole process of creating music is fascinating to me. I have spent countless hours critically listening to and deconstructing songs that I want to learn in order to assist in creating my own music. So when I find someone who clearly has a remarkable gift, I love to sit back and enjoy the results.

Lately, I have been listening a lot to the Eagles and have especially been admiring the way that Don Henley can craft a lyric. Don wrote one of my top 5 rock songs of all time in “Boys of Summer” and so when I saw his “Inside Job, Live” DVD on Netflix, I put it in my queue. Having thoroughly enjoyed the Eagles “Farewell Tour I, Live in Melbourne,” I was really looking forward to this concert. Toward the end of the DVD, Don did a song off of his Inside Job” CD (which at that time I had not heard yet, even though it came out in 2000. I’m just a little slow, but that’s beside the point!) that really took me by surprise. The song is called, “My Thanksgiving.” The title really intrigued me and I began listening. Here are the lyrics:

Well a lot of things have happened since the last time we spoke

Some of them are funny some of them ain’t no joke
And I trust you will forgive me if I lay it on the line
I always thought you were a friend of mine
And sometimes I think about you
And I wonder how you’re doing now
And what you’re going through
‘Cause the last time I saw you we were playing with fire
We were loaded with passion and a burning desire
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my thanksgiving
Now the trouble with you and me, my friend is the trouble with this nation
Too many blessings, too little appreciation
And I know that kind of notion well, it just ain’t cool
So send me back to Sunday School
Because I’m tired of waiting for reason to arrive
It’s too long we’ve been living these unexamined lives
I’ve got great expectations I’ve got family and friends
I’ve got satisfying work I’ve got a back that bends
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my thanksgiving
And have you noticed that an angry man can only get so far
Until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be with the way things are
Here in this fragmented world, I still believe
In learning how to give love, and how to receive it
And I would not be among those who abuse this privilege
Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge
And I don’t mind saying that I still love it all
I wallowed in the springtime now I’m welcoming the fall
For every moment of joy every hour of fear
For every winding road that brought me here
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my thanksgiving
For everyone who helped me start
And for everything that broke my heart
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my thanksgiving”
While I certainly am not endorsing anything the Eagles or Don Henley espouse (certainly not anything theological. “Hotel California” kicks that notion right to the curb!) this particular song has a valid point. Thankfulness is a quality that is sorely lacking in today's society. It seems that every time I turn on the television, there is someone else who is complaining because something didn't quite go their way or the government didn't give them what they think they deserve (I could quote another Henley lyric “Get Over It,” but I'll refrain since that one is way over the top!)
There are so many people that think that just because they occupy space on this planet, the world owes them anything they please. It's no wonder that they are never satisfied. If you expect someone else to fulfill all of your needs, you are sure to head at least to disappointment and most likely to out and out anger. There are so many examples in Scripture that command us to “give thanks.” I think the reason God has commanded us to give thanks is so that we will focus our attention on Him and His provision. When we understand that no matter the turmoil around us, no matter if our world is seemingly falling apart, God's purpose and will has been revealed, is currently being revealed, and will fully be revealed in the last day. This is of great comfort to those who are “called according to His purpose” as the Apostle Paul told us in Romans 8:28.So on this day of Thanksgiving, let's all remember that our source of life and all good things is the common grace of Almighty God. It is only fitting that the best way we can show our gratitude is to give Him the honor and praise that He alone deserves by allowing Him full control over all we do and all that we are which can only begin with full repentance and faith. In this we can then fully know the truly amazing eternal grace of God.