Post 1100 — On Thanksgiving

I do a reflective piece every 100 posts, because I like to take a step back, and share my heart with those who read me.  It is fun for me writing this blog, even more than when I wrote for RealMoney.  Why better than RealMoney?  For what I liked to write, I did not feel that I fit well there.  One RealMoney editor told me, “You’re our most profitable columnist.”  Surprised, I asked how that could be.  The answer was simple.  I wrote lots of comments (no pay), and the articles I wrote were both high quality, and long lasting.  The half life of an average article at RealMoney is a day, if that.  My articles were perhaps a month or more.  And, as Cody (Willard) said (something like this) to me over dinner several years ago, “Many of your comments are better than the articles on the site.  I print them out and take them home so that I can think them over.”  I love Cody — a good friend.

Today’s piece is on Thanksgiving.  We all have  lot to be thankful for, but sometimes it is helpful to be prompted and consider all of the ways that we are blessed.

  • Your health could be worse.  A wide number of accidents/infections could have harmed you and did not.  I can count on two hands the close scrapes that could have killed me.
  • The food could be worse.  I don’t think that I have mentioned it before, but my hobby is cooking.  I am amazed at what supermarkets in the US offer today versus when I was a child.  The diversity is amazing, as are the places in the world that they come from.  It doesn’t hurt to have a large Asian market nearby.  (I am ready for my cooking event tomorrow — there will be 25 people here.)
  • The health of your children could be worse.  Two of my eight children nearly died while they were young.  Health for children across the world has improved dramatically over the last century.
  • Your economic situation could be worse.  Yes, there are problems, particularly today, but there have been markedly worse times and places to be alive in human history.  There are still dreadfully poor people in the world, but the lot of those worst off is still improving on average, though not everywhere.
  • Your national politics could be worse.  Compare the freedom of today against other eras.  In most places, the level of freedom is higher now than in most of history.  We complain about politics being nasty in the US, but hey, a close look at history would tell you that it has almost always been nasty.  And, when it has not been nasty, some of the worst results have occurred.  We do best with divided government in the US.
  • There could be more wars.  There are relatively few wars today, and what wars are going are relatively low intensity.

You name it — things could be worse, and across human history, things have been worse.  In most of the world. we would not want to go back to “Golden Eras” of the past.  They would be a step down (or more) from what we have today.

Against Complaining

The opposite of Thanksgiving is complaining.  I want to discourage complaining in a few areas.  First, if you are thankful, avoid complaining about government officials.  Complain about policies, fine.  It is proper to be principled; it is wrong to be acidic to those who hold an office, even if they hold a wrong opinion.  Basic respect must be maintained even with 180-degree disagreement.  The office means more than the person holding it that you disagree with.

There are many who are angry over the losses they have felt, and want restitution should it be available.  But with most things in life, most small-to-moderate losses aren’t recoverable.

There are those that are irascible, and complain no matter what.  They live to complain.  Time to repent, and gain a new perspective.  Yes, things aren’t what they ought to be.  When are they ever that way?  Grow up, and embrace what is good amid imperfection.

Avoid envy.  Yes, there are those who have it better than you, and they don’t deserve it.  Be happy for them; yes, they don’t deserve it, but neither do you.  There are people in developing countries as deserving as you that don’t have 10% of  what you do, and should they hate you?

No, they shouldn’t, and neither should you hate those who have done well in bad times.  Let the courts try those who have committed fraud.  There will always be those who get away, yet God will try them in the end, and find them wanting.

But truly, you don’t deserve what you have, and yet you have it.  It is time to be grateful.  We all have more than we deserve in a fallen world.

Toward God

Not that it is the most basic book of the Bible, but when we talk about thanksgiving, the book of Job is significant.  Read it if you get a chance.  It is the story of a wealthy, generous man who is put to the test.  Would he trust God if all of his riches were stripped away?  His two conclusions are that he needs a mediator, one who can go between God and man, and that no, his personal actions are nothing to God.  All that said, he trusted God, and God heard his prayers.  What more could one of us ask than to have God hear us?   (There is more that I could write about this, but it is beyond the scope of this blog.  All that said, what would a mediator be like, one that could relate to both God and man?  Who in history is like that?)

Gratitude

We have a lot to be grateful for, whoever we are, and whatever we are.  Grab hold of this, and be grateful to God on this day of Thanksgiving.  Your life will be richer when you give thanks to God for what you have, regardless of what others may have.

With this, I thank all of my readers around the world for reading me.  I don’t deserve your attention, and yet I appreciate it.  May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you amid the troubles that will afflict in 2010.

David

PS — you knew I was a Bible-believing Presbyterian Elder, didn’t you?  You didn’t?!  Well, aside from from my eight kids, and homeschooling, that is what I am.  Call me a Fundamentalist if you must, you will be partly right and partly wrong.  But my fundamental alliance is to Jesus Christ, who is still alive, and lives in his Church across the world.  Jesus is my Savior.

8 Comments

  • Quints says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you! And may God bless you and your family as he has mine.

    I am thankful for many things, including the insight I have always received from this blog.

  • Steven Milos says:

    Happy (American) Thanksgiving to you David! Like normal people (Canadians), I celebrated it in October, but it’s always a good time to be thankful for everything that God has blessed us with. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

    Steve

  • TDL says:

    David,
    Happy Thanksgiving. I just wanted to echo Cody’s comment, you were one of the best at RM and I am thankful that you started your own blog.

    Regards,
    TDL

  • crocodilechuck says:

    David

    you are a mensch! I have learned a lot from your blog and enjoy reading your point of view-thank you!

  • Mike C says:

    David,

    Happy Thanksgiving. Of all the blogs I regularly read, your blog is at the top of the list of making me really think.

    I’m not particularly religious, but I did attend a church service with my girlfriend last night where the pastor hit on the theme of the difference between joy and happiness, and he said happiness comes from circumstances whereas joy is internal and trumps whether you are rich or poor, healthy or sick.

  • sg says:

    “First, if you are thankful, avoid complaining about government officials. Complain about policies, fine. It is proper to be principled; it is wrong to be acidic to those who hold an office, even if they hold a wrong opinion. Basic respect must be maintained even with 180-degree disagreement. The office means more than the person holding it that you disagree with.”

    Politicians don’t respect us enough to tell us the truth. They take our money and funnel it to their friends for purposes that are maybe 5% in the public interest and 95% in the interest of those involved in the deal. Politicians have now sunk to deriding the electorate. It is they who have the acidic tone towards us.
    They abuse us. We are guilty of being too patient with them and their foolish mismanagement, just like a kind parent is sometimes guilty of being too patient with an erring child.

  • Saloner says:

    Happy Thanksgiving David.
    Thank you very much for the education you provide.

  • David: A Happy Thangsgiving (albeit belated) to the house of Merkel). I appreciate the insight you bring to your financial writings and the occasional grace notes you insert from your faith (we share it in broad terms – while not of the same “brand name” (although I did do Presbyterian for a while), I’ve been a believer for most of my adult life).

    It sounds like you nailed the thanksgiving angle. Like cheerfulness and love, it’s much more a decision than we care to admit most days. You can put two poeple through almost identical stress, and one rises while one falls apart (I know – we’ve had some serious stress this last year, with the loss of both my 10 year old son (to cancer), my ten year old nephew to cancer (two years ago), and my brother’s only daughter (to a car accident). Horrific things all, and almost Jobsian in their impact.

    And yet,I will still praise him. I may aslo swear at him from time to time, and definitely will question him daily as to why.

    But the praise continues.

    I figure that either he loves us or he doesn’t, and he’s either in control or he isn’t). Since I believe that he does (love) and he is (in control), my only conclusion can be that “all wi be well, an all wi be well” – eventually. So I might as well praise him now

    Keep up the good work. And I wish the best of God’s blessings on you, your endeavors, and yor ridiculously (and I’m sure delightfully) large family.

    Peace