Lazarus Helps Me Give Thanks
NOTE: With Thanksgiving upon us, I thought it best to talk to Lazarus about giving thanks. I’ll return next week with the second installment of my discussion about Islam.
“This Thanksgiving Holiday of yours is unique in history.” Lazarus began.
“I believe so. People who came here were religious and felt the need to offer thanks for all that God had done for them,” I said, and added, “They’d braved a difficult journey and endured a severe winter.”
“Does everyone celebrate it in the same way?” Lazarus already knew, but as always, he was helping me clarify some things in my own mind. “I see a lot of people claim to be atheists or agnostics in your country.”
“Honestly, I’ve never quite understood who people are giving thanks to if they don’t believe in God.”
Lazarus pushed for more, “Can’t they give thanks to each other or to farmers or society or the government?”
I paused. “I suppose all of those things demand thanks. However, even a number of our presidents recognized something higher: Washington (here) and Lincoln (here). Lincoln even did it despite the Civil War that was raging. Besides, you know all this.” He just grinned.
“Sounds like a pretty good example of giving thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “How about you?” he asked. I looked at him and hesitated.
“I have to admit, it has been difficult for a lot of people this year, and for me personally, I’m struggling with the overwhelming evil that seems to get worse every day.”
“Does that prevent you from giving thanks? A lot of godly people over the centuries that I’ve been around have been thankful despite the prevalence of evil,” he observed. “You even mentioned what some of the settlers experienced and Lincoln’s war.”
“I know, but I get distracted by all that. I can list a lot of things for me personally, but it feels a little hollow when I look around. The direction of culture in this country is distressing.” I couldn’t help but reveal my struggle. Besides, Lazarus with his new life perspective has always been a good sounding board.
“Some things do seem a little too awful to think about for long,” he said.
I noticed he looked pensive. “So how did you do it when you were walking this planet. I know you even had threats on your life (John 12:9-11).” I asked.
“It’s a behavior that you have to develop, like acquiring a taste for a new food.” He paused and stared. “So, think about what’s good in your life?”
I hesitated. “I’ve been fortunate to keep my jobs. My wife has survived cancer, and she is a great partner. My sons have been very good to us: shopping, calling, inviting us over when possible.” Once I began thinking about it, things seemed to just flow. “I got a small raise from one employer; we have a house that is perfect for our needs; we have enough to eat . . .”
“I think you are beginning to get the idea,” he interjected. “How about hope? You have hope for better things, at least in the next life, don’t you?”
I had to admit that sometimes it is hard to keep the spiritual perspective in the forefront of thinking. The struggles with life can overshadow what’s truly important (Matthew 13:22). “Do they celebrate Thanksgiving where you are?” I blurted out though I knew the answer.
Lazarus just laughed.
I had to chuckle as well. I knew that giving thanks is one of the purest forms of worship. I guess that is why Paul said giving thanks is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “I don’t suppose Turkey and football are involved?”
We both had a good laugh. “Keep being thankful. It will help.” He advised.
“I hope. Things about this world can be pretty bleak if you focus on the abundance of evil,” I said. He just patted me on the shoulder as he got up and walked through the mist the way he always does.
I thought if Lincoln could be thankful to God during a monstrous Civil War, I can be thankful too.