Don’t Miss the Point of Thanksgiving
by Dave Foucar
Published on November 23, 2022
Categories: Inspiration

Don’t Miss the Point of Thanksgiving

By Dave Foucar

I heard the story of a farmer who, in his spare time also liked to do a little duck hunting.  Naturally, a duck hunter needs a good hunting dog. A dog that will retrieve the duck on command. Well, this farmer happened to find a unique hunting dog.

On his first day out hunting he was fortunate to get a couple ducks, which fell into a pound.  Of course, it was the dog’s job to retrieve the birds.  So, the farmer gave the command for the dog to fetch the birds and sure enough that is exactly what the dog did.  The strange thing was that rather than jump into the water and swim to retrieve the birds, this particular dog stepped out and, get this, he ran across the water. Now this farmer had seen a lot of things in his day but nothing like this dog.  He was amazed.  And, this wasn’t some sort of fluke. Each time the farmer shot a bird the dog would run across the water and retrieve it.

As you’d imagine, the farmer was anxious to show off his special dog. So, the farmer invited a friend to join him hunting.  After some time, they shot a few ducks and they fell into the pond.  The farmer gave the command and, sure enough the dog ran across the water and retrieved the birds.  Proudly the farmer turned to his friend expecting a reaction to this amazing feat.  Nothing! His friend simply said nothing.  A little while later they shot another duck and the dog did the same thing.  Again, no reaction, his friend said nothing.  In frustration the farmer asked his friend if he noticed anything unusual about his dog.  His friend replied, “Well, as a matter of fact I did notice something a little strange about your dog.  Your dog can’t swim!”

An unusual story to say the least. And, of course, not true. But what’s the point? Well, in short, the point is not to miss the point. Circular I know. What we see is that the subject of this story, the hunting dog, can do something amazing in running across the water. But the farmer’s friend misses what the dog can do because he’s concentrating on what the dog doesn’t do. He missed the point. Doesn’t this sound a lot like us at times? This may be especially true when it comes to our faith. Where God is concerned, we concentrate on the things we think He doesn’t do and sometimes miss all that He does do.

We might also ask, “why tell this story now?” Because it is November and, while we should always try to be aware of God’s presence and blessing in our lives, we’ve set aside a special time on the fourth Thursday of this month to give thanks. Yes, Thanksgiving. So, isn’t it a good time to adjust and renew our attitudes toward our heavenly Father? After all, Jesus reminds us that “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Mt 5:45) As many would say, “God is good all the time.”

Thanksgiving may be regarded as patriotic and American but it is more than that. From the beginning, since the time of the Pilgrims, time has been set aside specifically to remember God’s goodness. Some may dispute the accuracy of some of the details, but we do know that just over 400 years ago the Pilgrims gave thanks. Their thanksgiving wasn’t really in the midst of prosperity either, despite what we might think. So, their example provides a good perspective for us about giving thanks.

What is closer to reality for the Pilgrims than prosperity was survival. And they still gave thanks. After arriving in 1620 to the New World they found hardship. And they still gave thanks. Over half of their number died in that first year. And they still gave thanks. Native Americans provided desperately needed help. Otherwise, they may not have survived at all. And they still gave thanks. Their first harvest was not abundant but rather meager. And they still gave thanks.

The pilgrims knew that God was the source of all things. They understood that God was still God and deserved worship and thanksgiving in all circumstances. As Separatists, they had come to the New World to worship God without interference. They would serve and praise Him no matter what. They certainly understood Paul’s instruction to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18)

The old hymn “Count Your Blessings”, written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman Jr., encapsulates the idea of giving thanks:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings; name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

This year as we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, in the midst of the turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie, take a moment to think about the Pilgrims and their attitude of thanksgiving. Regardless of circumstances, good or bad, we are to give God thanks. And take a moment to count your blessings, on Thanksgiving and every day, “and it will surprise you what God has done.”

(Previously published in the November issue of “Faith On Every Corner” magazine: Faith On Every Corner)

Dave has a passion for teaching God’s word and has led Sunday School, Bible Studies, and Small Groups of all ages. He has served as a supply preacher and has been a lead speaker and seminar leader at Couples Retreats, Men’s Retreats, and Family and Youth Camps.

Dave’s first book, “What Do I Say When Asked About Jesus?” is a conversational approach to helping people answer questions about Jesus. The book provides a layman’s perspective on personal evangelism and the basics of the Christian faith. “What Do I Say When Asked about Jesus?” gives the average Christian tools to help share about Jesus while increasing confidence in their own faith.

Dave has been married for thirty-six years to the love of his life, Debbie. They have three daughters, two sons-in-law, and two granddaughters.

 

Feature Photo by Wallpaper Safari

 

5 Comments

  1. Alan

    This is an an excellent back to basics look at the origins of Thanksgiving; it is very much needed today in 21st Century. Thank you brother.

    Reply
  2. Craig Ruhl

    Wonderful article and a great reminder about Thanksgiving. Thank you!

    Reply

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