Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
November 23rd, 2022
“Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is Good” Psalm 107:1
Pshew! I don’t know if it seems the Fall calendar is flying by for you, but Thanksgiving week is already here. I hope you get a bit of a lighter work week, and of course, much more importantly, that you get a chance to gather with loved ones and reflect on God’s goodness to you.
Pausing to reflect on, and give gratitude is not something that comes naturally to us! I’m thankful for our forebears who did so, and established a pattern and a holiday for doing so. It is so oft and so easily overlooked! To be covered-up by thoughts of shopping or of football, or even worse, of the stresses we must face going forward, is a tragic loss for such a time with such pure intended purpose.
I even believe it’s harder to pause and be grateful to God now than it was in the days of my own childhood: I believe that the fast-paced, rat-race, social media nature of our society actively makes pausing and reflecting harder. This is for several reasons, which I will outline here:
Stress & anxiety are incompatible with peaceful gratitude. And what do we specialize in immersing ourselves in as a society? Just those things. Not intentionally, of course, but as a by-product of our microwave, dash-about, run to-and-fro lives. But what does God say in His Word? “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). If we’re not fulfilling the first half of that verse, it’s very hard to fulfill the second: maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that acknowledgement of God is on the wane in our society.
And regarding anxiety, what did Jesus say “Do not worry.” He says it no fewer than 3 times in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 6, vv. 25-34), and 8 times throughout the synoptic Gospels. Rather, he counsels us to ‘seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness, and God will see that all these (anxiety-provoking) things are provided to you.’ (6:33, my paraphrase).
Another big gratitude-blocker that I perceive is covetousness. God put it in His 10 Commandments, saying plainly “Do Not Covet”, and listing a few things that are usually top sources of covetousness. But this is a sin that cannot be observed from the outside: someone can get dressed nice and come to church for years, while their souls are twisted and corrupted, made desolate internally because of covetousness. And our modern society attacks and undermines us on this one as well, because I perceive that the advertising industry actively urges us to covet. Isn’t the subtle message behind so many advertisements “covet, covet, covet”? I don’t care whether you’re talking about billboards, banner ads, TV, radio, internet, what have you. “Your life isn’t complete: you don’t have this thing. Get it, and you will feel fulfilled” is the whisper. Whether or not the purchase is made, the message conveyed is a drop on our foreheads: a chink in our armor.
Meanwhile, we have a message in our Bibles that directly contradicts covetousness. Woe be to us if we don’t actively restore ourselves with God’s prescribed remedy, His worldview re-orientation regularly.
Read/Pray this beloved Psalm slowly, and ask God to root out any covetousness, stress, and anxiety from your life. And ask Him to make you truly grateful.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I pray a wonderful remainder of the week, and particularly Thanksgiving day blessings for you and your loved ones. Pass-on God’s goodness by being good to somebody else unexpectedly this week!
Pr. Mark Tatum