Taking Blessings for Granted
November 1, 2001 - September 11, 2001, is a day that will never be forgotten. On that day airplanes were hijacked by terrorists who flew those planes into the towers of the World Trade Center, into the Pentagon and into the ground in Pennsylvania. That terrible day, thousands died. That day is a reminder that we can never take our blessings for granted.
by Billy Graham
Taking blessings for granted has been easy for us to do, for we are a people who have received unparalleled gifts and endowments. And added to our material blessings are the liberties of a democratic government. Freedom is ours while other peoples are crushed beneath the heel of tyranny and nations are tormented by destructive dictatorships.
Above all, we have religious freedom, the privilege of worshiping God according to His Word without state direction. All these blessings lavished upon us by the mercies of God demand that at this season of giving thanks we take to heart the Word of God: "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name."(1)
We have abundant reason for giving thanks this year. We have lived to see another season of thanksgiving.
These blessings of God come not because we deserve them and not because we have been outstanding in our devotion to God so that He now seeks to reward us.
On the contrary, our sins condemn us. Our disregard of Christ, our neglect of the Bible, our lack of interest in the Church, our greed and lust—not to mention the crime and the violence across our nation—all these continue to make us unworthy of the least of God's mercies.
Over the years there has been crime, violence, lying and cheating in high places in government. Immorality is rampant throughout the nation. Millions are addicted to viewing pornography. We have become enamored with trial marriages. Our divorce courts are filled, our penitentiaries overflowing. Drug addiction and alcoholism are serious problems in society.
My daily prayer is that we as a people will not trifle with the grace of God, that we will not be ungrateful. All that we are and all that we have come as the undeserved gift of the grace of almighty God.
At this season of giving thanks, as I contemplate the thousands of things for which I am thankful, the thing for which I am most grateful is the love of God. I thank Him for His matchless grace, His everlasting mercy and His abounding love.
It is the goodness and mercy of God that leads sinners to repentance and forgiveness. But God warns, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."(2) God warned the people of Noah's day: "My spirit shall not always strive with man."(3) God was warning the nations, as well as us, when He said, "He that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief,"(4) and, "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."(5)
In spite of the material and spiritual blessings that God has poured upon us during the past year, millions of people will not stop to bow their heads in thanksgiving and praise to God. We take it all for granted.
The United States is the richest nation in the world. If you live here, you are considered rich by the world's standard. If you have clothes to wear, you are richer than millions who have no clothes. If you have a coin in your pocket, you are richer than millions who have no money. If you have a shelter over your head, you are richer than millions around the world.
But we take our blessings for granted.
Nearly 400 years ago a group of exiles, Pilgrims seeking religious liberty, landed on the arid, rock-bound New England coast. During the following 11 months, 100 pioneers were exposed to the rigor of winter and to the ravages of death. Within the first three months, there on the edge of the wilderness, nearly half of the Pilgrims died. During the winter, more graves were made for the dead than were homes built for the living. Of the 50 survivors, only four were women.
Even when the rays of that first spring sun warmed the clearings, new disasters loomed. Seeds imported from England failed to germinate and grow. For months, while the perils of the wilderness assailed from without, famine stalked within. The entire colony was forced to live on half-rations of food. Yet the Lord God of mercies was with that hunger-ridden band of exiled Pilgrims.
November came, and with it the harvesting of the crops of corn that had been raised from seeds accidentally discovered. With one accord these Pilgrims met for a solemn service of thanksgiving, and they lifted grateful hearts to the heavenly King. The Plymouth Pilgrims had a deep-rooted connection between their thankful recognition of God for the blessings that they were permitted to enjoy.
However, only a few years earlier, a group of people had come to the Virginia shore only to meet with terrifying starvation. They were hunger-crazed, desperate wretches, and they died of starvation.
You may ask, "Why did the Massachusetts colony succeed and the Virginia settlement fail?"
They had much in common: both were British, both had the same kinds of opportunities. In fact, the Plymouth colony even suffered intense difficulties while the Virginia settlement had much better circumstances.
Yet, there was a striking difference between the two settlements. The Pilgrims had come to the New World that they might freely worship God. The adventurers in Virginia had crossed the ocean that they might find gold and a water route to the Orient. And when they landed in the spring, they searched for gold. They neglected to sow seeds for the fall crops, and many people perished.
Above all, however, the striking difference between the two settlements was that the Pilgrim pioneers knew God and gave Him first place. Even when a large part of the colony was wiped out, they gave Him thanks. But the early Virginians seemed to give God only second place.
Throughout history it seems that no nation, however powerful in domain, money or military might, has forgotten God and neglected to thank Him without paying an appalling price for ingratitude. And it seems that no nation, however small, persecuted or oppressed, that has put its trust in God and has acclaimed Him the bountiful Source of every blessing has not finally experienced His rich benediction.
At this season of thanksgiving let's fall on our knees in gratitude and praise to God for the many blessings that are ours. Every blessing comes from God.
May we turn to Him and thank Him for the innumerable blessings with which He has enriched and endowed us.