It is always appropriate and timely for God’s people to remember God’s blessings in their lives and to remember the source of those blessings.
The traditional text for Thanksgiving season is Deuteronomy 8. It records how God led His people throughout their wilderness journey to the Promised Land; and, while He was leading them, He humbled them, causing them to hunger and then fed them. While He was leading them, He also tested them in order to see what was in their hearts – would they love Him above all things and would they observe His commands and walk in His ways. Throughout it all, God wanted to teach them that a person does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the Lord’s mouth. He wanted them to REMEMBER that HE REMEMBERS THEM.
Despite His daily generosity and goodness, people forget God. Why is this? Deuteronomy 8 identified several reasons why people are prone to forget God: “When people eat and are satisfied…when they have built their fine homes…when they have amassed silver and gold…” For it is the frequent tendency of the human heart, and of the human condition, to become proud and to believe that “it is because of my power and the might of my hand that I have gotten this wealth.”
At this time of the year, one of my favorite hymns is “I Am Forever Who I Am.” The lyrics were written by Richard Wiegmann (Professor of Art Emeritus – Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska) and the melody was composed by Kurt von Kampen (Professor of Music – Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska); and it is a hymn that grants us keen insight into the human story and the human condition:
We buy and sell we lose or gain;
Our fortunes shift like sun and rain
Sustain our lives, reward our toil
With bread and honey, wine and oil.
Save us and others from our greed;
You always give us what we need.
Our lust for power, wealth, and land
Diminishes the earth You planned
Prevent our crimes and futile wars
Convince us that all things are Yours
We rage and burn and kill and steal,
But You redeem, restore, and heal.
Each generation looks for truth,
And doubt can trouble age or youth.
If other gods would take your place,
Remember us with love and grace,
Reclaim us if we go astray,
You are the Truth, the Life, the Way.
Some days seem long, though life is brief
And death is waiting like a thief.
When vision fades and dreams go dry,
We will on unseen things rely.
Our stories take up but a page,
But Yours goes on from age to age.
This Thanksgiving, it is my prayer and hope that you will reflect upon these powerful and insightful verses, and especially upon the refrain of that hymn that says:
I am forever who I am
Above you, beneath you,
Around you and within you,
Be still and know that I am God.