Happy Thanksgiving!

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

Esme Ross is the Shepherdess president for the Iowa Missouri Conference.

One of the wonderful traditions I have learned in the United States is that of Thanksgiving. It gives me an opportunity for making a high day, not only for myself, but also for my family. Well, what does this time mean for me? What does this time mean for you? Taking pen and paper, I began to take stock.

I live in a land of tornadoes and storms. Having a home to protect me brings me much comfort. My family, a wonderful husband, precious children, and beautiful grand­children, fills my heart with joy and pride. I am blessed with the best in-laws. My son-in-law cherishes and cares so abundantly for my daughter. My daughter-in-law, Ruth, has taken me into her heart and is willing to share my dreams. My blessings include the support of wonderful friends, great prayer partners, and a blessed church family.

But wait, something doesn't feel right here! The scale seems to be tipping heavily on one side!

He wrote some of the most beautiful music in the history of humanity. Yet his life could not be called beautiful; it was full of tragedy. By the age of ten, both parents had died. He was raised begrudgingly by an older brother who resented another mouth to feed. Even as cm adult, his life was difficult. His first wife died after 13 years of marriage. Of twenty children from two marriages, ten died in infancy, one died in his twenties, and one was mentally retarded. Eventually he went blind, and then was paralyzed from a stroke. Yet he wrote great music—music of profound praise, thunderous thanks­giving, and awe-filling adoration.

Who is this victim of so much tragedy? John Sebastian Bach, a Lutheran and perhaps the world's greatest composer of church music. Perhaps it was because Bach knew the depths of tragedy that he also knew the heights of faith and praise.

Am I to give thanks for the hard times, the difficulties, and the frustrations in my life as easily as I give thanks for that which feels good and is comfortable and tangible? If the balances are to be true and correct, I need to recognize the value of the clouds and shadows of this past year, as well as the rain and sunshine that has fallen in my life.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And give thanks at all times!

Charles Dickens said that Americans are somewhat mixed up. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year, we should have 364. "Use that one day just for complaining and griping," he said. "Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you."

Happy Thanksgiving!