On Wednesday evening, November 14, 2012, I was among more than 300 people, who listened to Winfield High School senior, Jeremy Huff, describe his journey of having two large masses on his brain and one spread to his spine were defined as cancerous tumors. Surgery was on October 30, 2011. Then to hear the doctor say three months later, February 10, 2012, “you are cancer free.”
Dr. Melissa Pratt, when introducing Jeremy to her congregation said, “We all joined with our county in lifting Jeremy up to God and now he has lifted all of us up closer to God.” I talked with this young man who had been the star center on his high school football team and with his beautiful mother, Mary, strong and talented father, Matt, and his brother Jacob. Brother Andrew was not present.
This one family has much to be thankful for. This is one young man who in his days of weakness gave encouragement and strength to others and in his wellness, he and his family encourage thousands of others in their struggles. He has inspired a whole county, including thousands of students.
A real sense of gratitude, down deep in the heart and mind, will help turn a person toward God and the better things of life. In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued this proclamation in 1863.
“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessing of fruitful field and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they came, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”
This proclamation established Thanksgiving Day as a legal, national holiday. President Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be the official “National Thanksgiving Day.” The U.S. Congress finally ratified this day in 1941.
Some people take all 30 days of November and indicate on each one something for which they are thankful. One young man, our son, Mark, a college math teacher, wrote these 10 things just to give you an idea of how to do it and I added a few more that fit my life and experience. You will, with serious effort, be able to name things for which you are most thankful.
1. “God’s grace and justice.
2. “A loving family.
3. “A loving, patient fiancée.
4. “The drive to not give up on the important things.
5. “Those who served/serve honorably in the U.S. military.
6. “My Marine brothers.
7. “My biker friends.
9. “Opportunity & desire to learn.
10. “The United States Marine Corps.”
11. Freedom of worship in America.
12. Missionaries we can support as they take the message of God’s redeeming love to the whole world.
13. Books to read.
14. Radio, television, computers, CDs, DVDs, email, phones.
15. Children who bring laughter and love.
16. Teenagers filled with positive potential.
17. Older friends who speak with knowledge and wisdom.
18. Forgiveness, redemption and eternal life through Jesus Christ.
19. Neighbors and elected officials who bless us in numerous ways.
20. God who knows and whom we may know.
Psalm 100, a song of praise, is also a Psalm of Thanksgiving. Read it all and especially the last two verses, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations” (100:4-5).
Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Be thankful always.
Dr. William “Bill” Ellis of Scott Depot is a weekly syndicated columnist who writes on a wide variety of subjects. Ellis has spent 25 years as a radio and television broadcaster and as a guest speaker and teacher on college campuses.