The U.S. is celebrating Thanksgiving this coming Thursday. We celebrated with my family yesterday (we’ll celebrate with Rick’s family on Thursday) and it’s got me knee-deep in reflection as I think about our day yesterday and how it compares to most in the world.
Having spent a few years in poverty as a child, I learned that living an abundant life isn’t an automatic here in this world. In America we’ve got it relatively easy compared to third world countries. We take for granted the things that most of the world simply doesn’t have access to. It’s easy to do. When everything you need is right at your fingertips, it’s normal to expect it. But Thanksgiving always makes me think about those little things, and what it might be like for those whom the basics are not readily available.
According to Samaritan’s Purse, “an estimated 842,000 people die each year from diseases caused by unclean water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene habits. The majority of these are children in developing countries.”
Can you imagine having to walk miles each day for clean water? Or having to take your chances by boiling nearby river water? For most of America (let’s not forget Flint, Michigan) clean water is close by and easily accessible. Simply turn on the faucet in your home, apartment or trailer and out it flows. Even for those currently suffering homelessness, the U.S. has an abundance of shelters working to provide clean water.
In developing countries, every time they drink water they’re risking their lives. If you have easy access to clean water, be thankful.
At our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday we had so much food that we’ll be eating leftovers for a week. Although we never ever want for food, we live on a pretty simple and pretty strict grocery budget by U.S. standards ($450 a month for the six of us). Yesterday we ate like kings, and we’ll continue to do so for the next several days as we work to minimize food waste and eat up our leftovers. Then there will be more on Thursday as we eat like kings again with Rick’s family.
Thanksgiving always humbles me for that reason. I remember vividly the day when our cupboards were completely bare and the fear and anguish we felt. I can’t imagine living like that for years, but it is a reality for many in our world. When we volunteer at Feed My Starving Children or at the local food shelf, we get a clear reminder of what it’s like to not be able to provide food for yourself or your family. The U.S. has many resources for those who are hungry, but third world countries must often depend on outside help – if their corrupt governments will even let that outside help in.
Our 1888 built house has its annoyances. The floors creak and its “new and shiny” is long gone, but you know what? It keeps us plenty warm during the cold Midwestern winters.
The recent hurricane that hit Haiti destroyed their housing, which means that the Haitians tin-roof makeshift homes are now non-existent. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted all of the housing amenities that are “normal” in first world countries. Be thankful for every one of them.
A friend of mine runs a ministry (it’s called Isaiah 61 Haiti) that allows people to sponsor children for education in Haiti. In Haiti there is no such thing as free education, and most Haitian families simply don’t have the money to see that their children get a basic education. Regardless of which education route you choose (public school, private school, home school) be thankful that you have a choice.
I pray that as Thanksgiving rolls around, you all know how thankful Ruth and I are for you, our readers, who allow us to share our voices here and take the time to read. Each and every one of you are precious to us, and I pray that you have an abundance to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and always.
What things are on the forefront of your mind as you reflect on Thanksgiving?