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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Thanksgiving Signs & Wonders


This is the BEST day of the year, when millions of Americans celebrate a Biblical holiday with their family and remember to be thankful to God.  The Pilgrims really did come here to escape religious persecution and give a brighter future to their children.  And, as wide-eyed and hopeful as that all sounds, those families were battered, bruised, starved and exhausted. That is what it costs to find freedom.

I know it sounds impossible to start over – with nothing but hopes and dreams – but regular people do it every day. 

There are families that survive divorce due to anger and violence. There are families that survive the death of a spouse due to drug abuse.  There are families that survive bankruptcy after the family business is destroyed due to an economic downturn. There are families that survive losing a parent to brain cancer. There are families that survive the darkness of clinical depression. There are families that survive losing a child due to AIDS. That describes our family’s past.  Can you relate?

I believe the first Thanksgiving, fashioned originally after the ‘Feast of Booths’ in the Holy Bible, was their heartfelt attempt to thank God for surviving.  Did you know that Jewish people have been celebrating the ‘art of survival’ with a special prayer for thousands of years?

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ

אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם

שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha Olam, shehecheyanu vekiymanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are you O Lord Our God, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.

Not growing up Jewish, but surviving every circumstance I just listed personally, you can imagine how much I value that prayer.  I enjoy the opportunity to remember God saving us and keeping us alive and sustaining us to the next miracle

I believe God saves whole family trees every day – not just individual souls.

I have searched my whole life for the secret of thriving instead of just surviving. Like the prostitute who poured her bountiful wages of oil over Messiah Yeshua and wiped his feet with her tears, I know my love for God comes from my thankfulness to God saving my life. The Bible saved my life and Yeshua’s sacrifice freed me from the guilt of my past.  But, honestly, the thankfulness that makes my eyes well up with tears even today is how He saved my children.  If He had not saved me personally, in many times and in many ways, I would not have the joy of their company now.  I don’t deserve them.  I can’t control them. I didn’t create them. All I did was love them.  And loving them, each, one-by-one over a lifetime of adventures showed me how much God loves me.  I don’t think I could have figured it out any other way.

How we relate to one another in families can either invigorate or disintegrate your family tree.  God designed us that way.  What we teach is not as effective as what we live.  What we espouse is not as effective as we invest in. I invest in my children and live the Bible in as much as I understand it.  And, understanding God’s will for my life is my parenting guide.  Parenting is not for the weak-willed or half-hearted.  Children burrow into your heart like a bunny in a nest.  And once they are in there – watch out! No wonder God sent His Son instead of a superhero! He wanted into our hearts!  Whoever cuddled their superhero? And, which superhero ever got honored for being a great parent?

Thank God for choosing your family for you – both your parents and your siblings.

This year, think of Thanksgiving as your whole family celebrating “Our Father’s Day”, when the Father of Eternity has all His Children over to rest and ‘come home’ for a hot meal. Biblical faith is not about power or territory or even succession planning. I know first-hand how hard daily life can be if just surviving is the goal – Jewish people have been hunted and dispersed and regathered again and again.  BUT – I don’t think people are created by God to simply survive – like human shields ready to be martyred in a spiritual grudge match between the forces of good and evil.  God has – and I believe always will _ be motivated by love.  God multiplies love through families, parents to children and children to parents, generation after generation.  So, thank God for your parents, and your children.

But, PLEASE REMEMBER, He is the Father of Eternity and He created us for more. Thank God for your sisters and brothers, too.  Thanksgiving was created by God to make us courageous – TOGETHER.  I believe God can make families thrive when they remember the ‘why’ that keeps families investing in each other for generations – no matter what storm or circumstance threatens to destroy them.  Thanking God turns surviving into thriving by demanding that we be courageous – even if silent prayer standing near one another is comfort enough when natural answers fall short of consoling the broken.

Be courageous this Thanksgiving – and watch God work in your lifetime and in your days.

I find family courage in the Bible.  I want courage to forgive like Joseph.  I want courage to hope like Hannah.  I want courage to thank God like Noah’s family did right after the flood.  They saw a rainbow like God’s smile light up the sky!

There are many families simply surviving across America today – like those who suffered forest fires in their back yard.  Let’s thank God together in prayer this year knowing that God has the ability to resurrect those families and He can heal them day after day.  Enjoy the food even more by inviting people that God would want to find refuge at your table, even if they are crusty and aggravating, because it honors God to love the unlovable.

We invite you to try this really important Jewish tradition at YOUR house: Thank God you can all be together in this sacred moment.

Enjoy the relationships that God created you through, and for you, between you, and forge a new pathway home to love God together as the unique family He created.  And, full to the brim with both food AND faith, expect God to do a miracle that will be a sign to the one of you who needs to see it the most – even if that’s you!

Praise always! Pray constantly. In everything, give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Messiah, Yeshua!  – Thessalonians 5:16,17,18  TLV
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