Tablet Fascination
photo by Charles Huff

The television station announced the beginning of their “Countdown to Christmas” movies. Two of our young granddaughters, who were visiting us at the time, both said, “What? It isn’t even Halloween, yet.”

With their tablets in their hands and their minds on their games, I didn’t know they were listening to the television. But they wanted to know why Christmas programs would start so early. I gave an overly simplified answer they accepted. Meanwhile, I was thinking an important holiday—Thanksgiving—was completely over-shadowed by the ones on either side of it. Yes. Thanksgiving has lost too much of its importance in our nation.

I say that without referencing the history of the holiday. There’s a cavernous void of thankfulness in our nation, at least that is what I perceive from the news and social media. Growing up, I heard baseball was America’s greatest pastime. I think complaining has taken its place. When I catch myself flowing with the frowning crowd, I remember three experiences to reset my mindset.

Comparison Between America and Other Countries

Before my wife Cindy and I left for a ministry trip to the Philippines, a friend of ours warned us to be prepared for culture shock. That alone did not surprise us. We knew we would be stepping into a third-world nation where we would see poverty as we’d never imagined. The surprise came with what he added, “I don’t mean when you get there. I mean when you return.” He was so right.

The lifestyle of the people there in their poverty awakened me to my American advantage. One pastor’s home was a bamboo and banana leaf hut. Along one side of his house flowed an open sewer ditch. In the rainy season, he had to stack things off the floor because the rain and sewer water flooded his house. Yet, every morning, he wore freshly washed and pressed slacks and shirts, taken from shelves (not a dresser or closet) in his bedroom.

A mountain church in a banana plantation where we ministered. Church on left house on right.








Another pastor and his wife—young and waiting for the birth of their first child—ministered among the Muslim community. His co-laborers’ efforts to share the gospel had recently been discovered. He was immediately seized and beheaded. Yet, this pastor thanked the Lord for being considered worthy for the opportunity to change someone’s eternity and continued to work and share when possible.

When my wife and I returned to Illinois, USA, the first thing I was thankful for was being in Chicago traffic again. But having been humbled by the faith and thankfulness we witnessed in the Philippines, despite the comforts we missed while there, I asked my wife if we would be willing to give up all we have to have the faith and thankfulness they had.

Comparing Our Comforts to Others’ Hardships

Another lesson years earlier happened in the security of our home. Cindy and I took turns reading a book at night before going to bed. The lesson on thankfulness came as we were reading The Hiding Place, the biography of Corrie Ten Boom in the German concentration camps. The conditions they endured were inhumane, degrading, and fatal.

One night, we had gotten to the place in her story where Corrie learned from her sister Betsy that they could be thankful even for the lice in their beds. Before we opened the book that night, we made ourselves a cup of tea, pulled out our comforters, and settled into our soft chairs. We knew we would be there for an hour and wanted to be sure we were comfortable and cozy before we started.

The contrast between our insistence on our surroundings being plush perfect and the thankfulness lesson for Corrie hit me hard. I could read no further for the tears flooding my eyes.

Comparing Our Gratitude to God’s Goodness

The third lesson comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans. In the first chapter, he gives an outline of the downward moral spiral of people, showing how one action leads to another until society reaches the bottom. Before launching into that, he gives this reason: “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21 NKJV).

Be thankful to Him
photo by Charles Huff

A lack of thankfulness is the first slippery step. It’s the first indication of declaring independence from our Creator and Savior. We may not make a reasoned decision to turn away from Him, but being unthankful toward God also means we are not glorifying Him as God. We close the door against our fellowship and hearing from the Holy Spirit. This makes Thanksgiving a day to remind us to say thanks–possibly the most important holiday we have in the United States. But more than a holiday, it should reset our focus and be a restart for the next year.

Between now and Thanksgiving, consider writing one thing onto a list each day that you are thankful for. Share it with family and friends as you celebrate Thanksgiving and prepare for Christmas.

Charles Huff

Charles Huff is a Bible teacher, minister, speaker, husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife have held pastors seminars and taught in various churches, including remote mountain churches in the Philippines. His writing has appeared in, The Upper Room; articles in three anthologies: Gifts from Heaven: True Stories of Miraculous Answers to Prayer compiled by James Stuart Bell; Short and Sweet Too and Short and Sweet Takes a Fifth, both compiled by Susan Cheeves King.

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