Most of the world would agree that Americans have much to celebrate on Thanksgiving Day. It is a uniquely American holiday that we share only with Canada, where it is celebrated in September. Yet, various surveys show that most Americans feel down this year. Although we are the richest nation on the globe, most Americans are going to hold back on Christmas gifts because we have contrived a situation where only a few share so fully in the wealth that they feel they can ignore the manipulative and dishonest practices in home mortgages, the decline in cheap gasoline, the inefficient and unnecessarily profitable health insurance industry, and the widespread irresponsibility of employers. We are bogged down in wars we cannot win in Iraq, on our border with Mexico and on drug abuse. We are caught in destructive, polarizing politics where leaders are more interested in manipulating their opponents so they can "win" than in negotiating wise policies for the future of our country.
Americans are not happy this holiday because of the deep sense of loss they feel deep down inside; the loss of a time in which compassion was more widely practiced, there were at least a few leaders with integrity who managed to keep the herd of politicians in hand, most businesses could be trusted to provide decent products and services, and people had more faith in both God and one another. Today most Americans feel they are simply fodder for the manipulation mill of the government and prey for the large corporations with no morals, no patriotism and a deadly robotic focus on immediate profits.
What is there to celebrate? Unlike Darfur, it is not likely that a crowd of men will come this evening and kill us. Unlike Baghdad, it not likely that a bomb will go off in the crowded stores tomorrow. Unlike Burma, the police will not intervene when large numbers assemble to worship God this coming weekend. Unlike Argentina, there are plenty of jobs available. Unlike France, the transportation industry is not on strike, just the people who write the trash they offer up on most television channels (perhaps itself a cause for giving thanks). Americans are a lot better off than they feel, but they are haunted by how is once was.
In the end the real reason for gratefulness is not about economics or politics, it is about a God who gave His life that we might have hope and His promise to remake the world in His image. "It's all about you, Jesus." The God who still loves us no matter how down it gets, no matter who much politicians lie to us and manipulate us, no matter how much gasoline costs, no matter how many employers cancel the health benefits they promised, no matter if we have a parent in the hospital dying of cancer or a son in Iraq laying his life on the line, no matter what, God is with us and will bring us through. That is the real reason to raise the Thanksgiving hymn and feast in the name of our God!