"Thanksgiving and Gratitude"
by Allen Clark www.combatfaith.com www.combatfaith.blogspot.com
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."-----Psalm 118:24
Woke up this morning and went in to the kitchen of the home to which Linda and I had just moved this month. I told her I was thankful for two things this day. She said, "Just two?" I said, "Yes, my Lord and my Linda." A little background for you all. On August 10 this summer Linda and I had come to our new home, which then was resided in by her 52 year old son, Vincent, an only child and high school teacher. We found him deceased from a heart attack. The past few months have been busy indeed with all the estate and probate requirements and moving to his former home.
We have two recliners where we sit each morning to pray together, read our Bible, and converse. As I began my day seated two additional important elements came to mind, two "freedoms" for which I am also grateful. The faith entity under which our lay ministry operates is Combat Faith Ministry. In clearing our old storeroom I found a large poster printed years ago for my ministry presentations. It depicts the crest of my Vietnam Special Forces unit. The motto of the Green Berets is displayed on the poster, "De Oppresso Liber," translated meaning "Freedom From Oppression." When we truly believe in the Christian faith that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Lord, we comprehend that we are locked strategically and tactically (personally) in an earthly struggle between good and evil, and possess the opportunity to achieve spiritual freedom in overcoming the darkness and adversities of life. I am most thankful also for the exposure and opportunity to have learned much through my lifetime regarding spiritual warfare and how to overcome its oppressions.
On this Thanksgiving Day 2015 I reflect back on those harsh, foreboding and challenging times faced by the Pilgrims at Plymouth when they reached our shores, escaping the religious persecution of Europe. However, they gathered together and celebrated our land's first Thanksgiving. President Abraham Lincoln officially established it to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November each year. The freedoms of our land expressed in faith, government, and personal lives are unmatched ever in the annals of history.
Yesterday I walked through our nearby grocery store and again marveled at the bountiful and abundant product selections evident in all the aisles. We are indeed rich in material blessings in our land. However, this copious wealth of our land enjoyed by so many has been a product of the freedom we enjoy in this land of the free and home of the brave. Contrast what we have been blessed with in America to that in lands where there has been a lack of freedom due to other doctrines and ideologies. I am reading a book titled Putin's Oil by Marvin Sixsmith, a story about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the Russian oligarchs, who came to financial prominence in the energy field after the fall of the Soviet Union. Khodorkovsky wrote later in his life about life under Communism;
"Today's young people do not remember what life was like for us in the Soviet Union before the start of Perestroika. I sometimes find it difficult to explain that rising prices for goods are not the most frightening thing in life. It is worse when you walk into a store and there is simply nothing there to buy. My first son [Pavel], who is now 18 years old and attending college, was born at that time. We had ration coupons---they were little cards ----and I had to get baby food for him with these coupons. Sometimes, the baby food wasn't delivered to the store. It was good when we had a bit stocked up at home, and it was a good thing that we lived in Moscow, where the food situation was easier. Nevertheless, every morning at 6 a.m. I had to go to the place where they were selling this baby food. And if they ran out, there was nowhere else to buy it. I don't wish any of you who have, or will have, children to go through something like this."
The contrast between our freedoms and blessings and the lack thereof in other systems is self-evident. In gratitude we must reflect this day for much to include we are not being persecuted as are many of our Christian brothers and sisters under other regimes by much more severe methods than were experienced by the Pilgrims four centuries ago. Sometimes few things change. Praise God for the freedoms and protection we enjoy in our homeland!