Yes, at a time such as this

Amid life's uncertainties, now is the precise time to give thanks

The economy in a mess, the nation at war, the future never more uncertain.

More than our own lot, this describes the State of the Union at the first official Thanksgiving in 1863.

With the country embroiled in a traumatizing Civil War, and the nation’s very existence in question, President Abraham Lincoln nonetheless was inspired to call on his countrymen everywhere to pause and give thanks.

Thanks? At a time such as that?

Yes, at a time such as that.

Likewise, those early Americans who gave thanks at Plymouth as part of what we have traditionally considered the Pilgrims’ first thanksgivings did so in the harshest possible conditions amid the thickest clouds of uncertainty. They didn’t know what challenges or dangers the next day might bring, much less the coming winter. But they gave thanks as well.

Thanks? At a time such as that?

Yes, at a time such as that.

What better time to take stock of our blessings than when they are most needed, most appreciated, most fortifying?

Were they here today, our forebears from the colonial and Civil War eras would no doubt be agog at how good we’ve got it – beginning with what a collection of plump butterballs we’ve become, and on to our cars, our highways, our stores, our homes, our TVs and phones and computers and on and on.

But if they lingered long in our living rooms or chat rooms or television rooms, and heard our public dialogues and private musings, they might consider us the most peevish, demanding, ungrateful sorts on Earth.

With any luck, we’d start to see through their eyes all that we have, and not just in the way of possessions. All our comfort, our diversions, our relative safety, our astounding health and incomparable health care – the list of our blessings goes on. Perhaps you will make out your own list today.

Nor must we be visited by history to see the breadth of our favors and graces. Just look around the world today. Even amidst the worst economy in most of our lifetimes, and certainly since the Great Depression, we’ve got it decidedly better than almost every one of the world’s nearly 7 billion others.

Be sure to do the math when counting your blessings.

As for the Great Depression, consider this: If ever there was a time in modern history that we would’ve canceled Thanksgiving or somehow concluded that our blessings didn’t outweigh our trials, that might have been it. But even then we forged on, with the Pilgrims’ indefatigable faith and grit.

We are blessed beyond our capacity to know.

So today we pause to give our thanks – not because our road has been easy, but precisely because it is hard and yet we are continually granted what we truly need by our beneficent and knowing God.

Thanks? At a time such as this?

Yes, the Pilgrims and the president might say. Especially at a time such as this.

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