With the troubled economy casting a shadow over the country, Americans across the nation are especially being reminded this Thanksgiving of the many things they do have to be grateful for.
“It’s very easy during this time called Thanksgiving to lose perspective and to forget that we have so much to be thankful for,” said megachurch pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., on Wednesday.
“We’re so quick to come to the Lord when we’re in times of crisis,” he added.
“And then when He comes through, we have the audacity to blame it on ‘dumb luck,’” Laurie said in a special message titled “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”
“Be as quick to give thanks to God as you are to ask for help from God,” the Southern California preacher exhorted. “And we need to give thanks even if times are hard.”
For many more Americans this year, Thanksgiving will be spent at home.
The troubled economy left airports eerily empty Wednesday unlike past holiday preludes. The roads, meanwhile, witnessed 600,000 less Americans traveling more than 50 miles compared to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday.
"This is a reflection of the economy, and while gas prices have come down so significantly, people are paying more for everything else," AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher told The Associated Press.
However, while financial problems may be affect the travel plans for many Americans, megachurch pastor Laurie urged people – Christians especially – not to let it affect their giving of thanks.
Regardless of what financial problems people may have, or hard times, or health problems, or even family problems, “we still should give thanks,” Laurie said.
“Praise and worship can sometimes be a sacrifice because we don’t necessarily want to do it,” the popular evangelist admitted. “When you’re down, or when you’re discouraged, or when you’re depressed, or things aren’t going that well, or hardship or tragedy befalls you, you don’t feel like praising God.
“But the Bible does not say praise the Lord when you feel good, it says praise the Lord because He is good,” Laurie exhorted.
He also noted how it’s not always clear this side of Heaven what the good and bad things are.
“I know certain people who have wished their whole life for certain so-called ‘good’ things happen to them, and as those ‘good’ things happen, I’ve watched them be destroyed by them,” Laurie reported. “And I’ve seen other people who have lamented about the bad things and how horrible they are but with the passing of time they’re able to look back on it and say ‘You know, actually, the bad thing turned out to be a good thing.
“So I don’t know that we’re going to fully know what the good or the bad things are until we get to Heaven,” he acknowledged. “But God in His sovereign wisdom has a way of working all things together for His good for those who have been called according to His purpose.”
So regardless of whether something seems “good” or seems “bad,” Laurie urged believers to give thanks today to God for all He’s done for them – especially for the forgiveness of their sins and the inheritance in Heaven that awaits them because of their relationship with the living God.
“If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week,” he informed his congregants, citing from “Blessings” by Stephen Eardley.
“If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, or the agony or torture, or the pangs of starvation, you’re ahead of 500 million people in the world,” he continued.
“And finally, if you have spare money in the bank, in your wallet, or spare change in a dish some place, you are among the top eight percent of the world’s wealthy,” Laurie concluded.
“So when you put it that way, maybe we have more to be thankful for than we realize,” he commented.
“If you’re in good health today, please don’t take that for granted,” Laurie exhorted.
Earlier in the day, Laurie’s daughter-in-law gave birth to the evangelist’s second grandchild. Lucy Christopher Laurie was born at 8:20 a.m. PT, weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces. Her middle name was given in remembrance of her late father, Greg Laurie’s son, Christopher Laurie, who passed away earlier this year after a car accident.
Christopher Laurie’s first child, Stella, is two years old.