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Alert, Busy and Giving Thanks

By Jeffry Boatright

Thanksgiving is an American tradition that has spanned nearly 400 years. The beloved holiday reunites family and provides most Americans with the opportunity to indulge in his or her favorite Thanksgiving dish. We really do enjoy the company, entertainment and delicious food, but Thanksgiving is so much more than just another day off, or the lead-in to Black Friday. It has been set aside as a national holiday for Americans to offer gratitude to our Creator, who has so abundantly provided and blessed our homes, communities and our nation.

While everyone might not pause to offer thanks for the blessings we have, the majority does recognize that even in our bleakest and most vulnerable moments, the same God who provided for the pilgrims does continue to meet our needs today. It might not always be easy, and at times, we might ask why, but we know that unfortunate events are inescapable on Earth.
According to Pastor Danny Henderson of Harvest Fellowship Church in Jasper, we have no assurance in life. “But we have the assurance of eternity,” Pastor Henderson added.

Even in the wake of such horrific events as the mass church shootings in Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee, comfort can be found in our Provider, and faith can grow. Roger Sumner, who serves as youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Dowling Park acknowledges that his faith is stronger than ever.

“In difficult times we learn just how resilient the Christian family can be,” Sumner stated. “We learn how to work together and support one another. Our faith makes us stronger as we deal with the range of emotions that comes from such a senseless tragedy. I know that my faith is stronger than ever and no matter what comes my way, God will always walk with me.”

Echoing the sentiment of Sumner and Henderson, Naela L. Jimenez of Suwannee County stated that even when experiencing such difficulties in life, things will get better with the help of our Lord. Jimenez refers to the Book of Romans when she cites, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life.”

Henderson emphasized that recent church attacks and adversity are nothing new for Christians. Throughout history, Christians have been targeted by evil. Even the earliest Christians were persecuted and faced the punishment of a gruesome death. While the dangers of this world lurk for Christians and non-Christians alike, Henderson pointed out that we can have a peace that can only be found in Christ and that peace, he stated, surpasses all danger because God has delivered us from the spirit of fear.

Acknowledging that the threat of danger is real and present, Pastor Henderson recognizes that we must be alert, but stresses that we must not live in fear. “We can hide, but we’re giving in and not building God’s Kingdom,” Henderson articulated. “We must be alert, but above all else we must build the Kingdom of God and stay busy.”

Referring to the thirteenth chapter of John, Henderson stated that Jesus has given us the formula to overcoming fear and anxiety. That formula is to simply love one another. “Jesus said when they see it, they will know we are disciples,” he added.

Simply put, Christ did command us to love one another. After His resurrection, He even instructed His disciples to go and teach all nations. Certainly, there will be moments of joy, but there will also be times of adversity, just as the pilgrims endured.

Those pilgrims who set sail for America on the Mayflower knew not what dangers might lurk in the unconquered wilderness of the new world, but they persevered. They knew there would be no assurance when they reached the shores in search of religious freedom and new opportunity, but they trusted. Like the pilgrims, we have no assurance in this world today. We do, however, have assurance of our eternity, just as Henderson, Jimenez and Sumner agree. That alone is worthy of not one day of thanksgiving, or even three, as the pilgrims celebrated, but 365 days of thanksgiving every year.