I have been writing this blog for almost two months now. I have written on subjects like The Second Amendment, Immigration, and Gun control. The Presidents words and actions have been topics I have covered as well. Over the last week, I have gone over each entry and have come to a conclusion: our country is being lost a little more each week. It wasn’t until I reviewed last week’s post that I figured out what is wrong.
Last week’s post was my tribute to those who have served in the armed forces. That post fits into the theme of this upcoming week; being thankful. It is appropriate that Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving are so close together. If it were not for those men and women who fought and died for this country, we would not have the things we have that make us thankful.
How We Fail to be Thankful
In this country, we have grown accustomed to having stuff. Personal items like clothing, cars, homes, and electronic devices, have become part of who we are. We have developed a sense of entitlement, and we feel we deserve everything we have. Well, don’t we? We put in our 40 at work, we pay our taxes and give to charitable organizations. If we want to spend some of our excess on a new Samsung TV, a Louis Vuitton purse, or dinner at Ruth Chris, then we should have that right. We deserve it, and I for one enjoy a good steak.
Our gotta-have-it mentality has blinded us to what we already have. We are constantly looking for bigger and better. What we currently possess is never enough. So, how can we be thankful for the things that we have if we are always looking for the things we want. We find ourselves quite unthankful and bitter when we cannot have the newest model. We should be ashamed.
How Can We Be Thankful?
First of all, we need to take inventory. Not physically writing a list, although if you are a list writer, knock yourself out. Look at all the stuff that you own, but look at it from the aspect of being blessed with those items, not how they lack from what is on store shelves right now.
Second, take each item individually and consider what it took to get it, then think of what your life would be like without that item. Doing this gives you an appreciation for that particular item. Once you see that thing through a thankful state, move onto the next.
After a while, you will notice a trend. You begin to appreciate what you have a little more. The newest model may still appeal to you, but you will not take for granted what you have the way you did.
Now that we have looked at what we have, and gained a different perspective on being thankful for our possessions, consider the bigger picture. We tend to be so narcissistic that we don’t look beyond our circle. The bigger picture is with those around us. What would our life be like without the friends we have, our jobs, the city we live in, the state we live in, the country we live in. We take each of those for granted as well. We have grown up with so much freedom that we have become blinded to the freedom that freedom brings. No, that is not a typo. Read it again, slowly. You will see what I mean.
Next, we need to ask, what is freedom? Where did it come from?
As we were reminded last week, freedom came from those who fought and died for it. The men and women of our armed services willingly chose to put their lives on the line so that you and I can live in this wonderful country free from tyranny and the evil that lurks about us. For that, we need to be eternally thankful. Without their sacrifice, we may not have the ability to make choices as we do.
We have the freedom to worship as we chose.
We have the freedom to be educated.
We have the freedom to choose our profession.
We have the freedom to take a stand for what we believe in.
We have the freedom to take a stand in opposition to what others believe in.
This freedom comes at a cost. A cost that is decided by the powers and entities that exist to govern us. Starting with the President and making its way down to our local mayor. These men and women make decisions that affect each of us. No one is exempt from the choices they make. No one is exempt from the laws they enact. Which is why it is imperative that we are involved in the process.
What is Our Part in the Governing Process?
If we want to retain the freedoms we grew up with; we need to do these three things. First of all, we need to vote. If you do not vote, then you should have no standing when you complain about the governing decisions.
Second, you need to stand for what you believe in. If you do not make your voice heard, then we cannot come to an understanding of each other in order to find common ground to build a bridge between our ideals.
Thirdly, and I feel most importantly because it ties all three together, we need to pray. Without prayer, we wouldn’t know who to vote for, we wouldn’t have a set of ideals to stand behind, and we would never have an ultimate source to go to when all does not go how we want it to.
Prayer is the Key
This does not mean that we pray for our guy to be elected, or for a competitor to fail. This type of prayer is unproductive as there are greater powers at work than just what we want to happen. There is an ultimate design and the will of God that is at work. Regardless of how many of us feel, the powers that be are in their positions due to God’s will, or allowance. The issue is how we chose to react when someone who is at odds with our position is in office. Will we bellyache and turn our backs, or will we support them in spite of our personal feelings?
If we want to see changes we need to begin with prayer. Pray for our leaders. Pray that God will guide them in their decisions. Pray that God will change their hearts if they are supporting a view that opposes God’s design. Pray that God will influence their actions, to be honest, and fair. Most of all pray that God softens our hearts towards them, accepting them as the authority figure, even if we do not approve of them spiritually, politically, or personally.
The Bible encourages us to pray for those in power (I Timothy 2:1-2). We should not resist them because if we resist them, we are resisting God who has placed them in power (Romans 13:1-5). I Peter 2:13-17 tells us we should not only honor the higher powers but to respect those who are below them. Honoring each other, God, and those He has set in place.
It does not matter if we view a leader as good or bad, our government needs the support of its people. That support should always begin with prayer, even if we do not like the person in office. Our prayers do not have to be for their agenda’s success. Our prayers should be for God to guide our leader in making right decisions in accordance with God’s will for our country.
Often our prayers are given based on how thankful we are. And how thankful we are rooted in how much we appreciate the life we have. If we feel we have a mediocre life, it will produce mediocre prayers. When we know we are living a blessed life, then our prayers will reflect it. When we see the good through the bad, we become thankful regardless of our situation.
Above all, we ought to be thankful for being born in a country that has freedom. We ought to thank God that we can live without a governing authority forcing us to say certain things, do specific things, or believe certain ways. And if we fail in any way, we are punished up to and including death. This is happening all over the world. It is our prayers and retaining focus on what is important that keeps us from suffering the same fate of freedom denied.
Freedom will never have any true meaning for us if we continuously degrade the process that enables us to be free. The negativity keeps us from developing a sincere appreciation for the life we have been given. An appreciation for life brings about the desire to continue in that life. And the way to continue to live a thankful life is to support the ones who are responsible for that life to exist. Our leaders need guidance to maintain that life. Our prayers bring that guidance. Prayer is where the process begins. Prayer is a universal answer. Because no matter what your political view is, we all desire the best for our blessed country.
Jeff is a writer with a passion for God that comes through in everything he writes. A local First Baptist member and truck driver he loves to create works that glorify God. In addition to his freelance work, Jeff has written a series of books called the Elissa the Curious Snail series which helps parents introduce basic faith concepts like prayer, even in the face of adversity, into their teachings in a fun and entertaining way. No faithful home with children or grandchildren should be without a copy. See his books at www.elissathecurioussnail.com.