Many people, if they count their blessings at all on Thanksgiving Day, may feel that they don’t have much to be thankful for. Maybe things haven’t been going very well for them. Maybe they are struggling financially. Maybe their health hasn’t been very good. Maybe they are lonely as they think back on past Thanksgiving Days when they celebrated with their families.
As they think of these things, they are not very happy at Thanksgiving. It may even depress them. And instead of being moved to give thanks to God, they are more inclined to feel sorry for themselves.
If we feel that way, we are overlooking something. We are overlooking God’s greatest blessing that the Bible sometimes calls the Bread of Life. It is not only God’s greatest blessing but it is something every one of us can have.
After Jesus miraculously fed the 5000, people wanted to make him their king. They wanted Jesus to make some kind of utopia for them on earth. They would have all the food they needed. Jesus refused. He told them that they should be more interested in a different kind of bread, bread that lasts forever, the Bread of Life. The Bread of Life is Jesus.
When we have Jesus, we have God’s greatest blessing. This blessing is usually ignored. Most people don’t have much interest in it. We tend to think in terms of health, wealth, and success when we count our blessings. We tend to be like the people at Jesus time who wanted Jesus only to take care of their earthly needs.
What we need is not more food or better food. We don’t need better housing, financial security, good health or long life. Our problems in these areas are only symptoms of something else, our sins. Sin separates us from God. Sin puts us under God’s curse.
But God gives us the Bread of Life. He gives us Jesus who became a man, took our sins on himself, paid for them, gives us his righteousness so we are no longer under God’s curse. Our greatest blessing is Jesus, a blessing given for every one of us. Don’t overlook Jesus as you count your blessings.
Most of us have a place to live. We eat regularly. We have clothes to wear. We have at least some income. We have good enough health to at least be alive and get around. We have relatives and friends, most of us have a lot more than we need to exist.
We would like to have more, of course. Life is not perfect. We may wish things could be better. That is the way the people felt who wanted to make Jesus their king.
But suppose we had everything we wanted. Suppose conditions in your life were perfect. There would still be something wrong. It won’t last. Material things wear out. They become obsolete. Friends can turn against us. We grow old. We die. Nothing in this life is permanent. It is all temporary.
That is the difference between these blessings we are so concerned about, and the blessing that Jesus points out to us. Salvation is permanent. It is not affected by change, decay or by anything else that happens to you in your life. You can eat and you will get hungry again. You can drink and you will get thirsty again. But Jesus paid for all your sins and it will never have to be done again.
We like money. We like comfort. We like to be successful. And these things tend to distract us so that we ignore the goal that God has placed before us.
It may not seem like much of a Thanksgiving if your family isn’t around, or if you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving like you used to do. It may not seem like much of a Thanksgiving if your health is poor, or if you are having financial problems. But even if you don’t have family, health or money, you can still have the greatest blessing of all. Jesus came to be your Savior and take you to eternal life.
(Pastor Marc Frey is the pastor at Peace of Our Savior Lutheran Church and Preschool (WELS) New Carlisle, OH www.peaceofoursavior.net)