It’s the favorite word of the experts, who begin their dire predictions with the word, "if", and then continue to tell us that economic or social or military disasters are on the way. The result is that we live in a state of constant anxiety, worrying about tomorrow’s problems before they even occur. And since no one can solve a problem that hasn’t actually happened, there is no cure for that anxiety.
So we try to prepare ourselves for all eventualities, even if those eventualities are contradictory in nature. In doing so, we have become a people who live in fear of an unpleasant future, even if the present circumstances of our lives do not match our fears.
The possible future has become more real than the actual present. It’s a better job of make-believe than our children play on their most creative days.
We are not unique in that situation.
Long ago, a people were led into a desert to escape slavery. They had only what they could carry. After a brief time, the food began to run out. The people began to complain, saying that they would surely starve.
So their leader, a man named Moses, asked God to provide for them. The answer was immediate. Every morning, enough bread for that day, and that day only, would be available. Many people doubted that bread would be there the next morning – but it was. In fact, it was there every morning.
Some of the people worried about the following day. So they gathered more than they needed for that day. The next morning they ran to their store of extra bread, only to find that it had gone bad during the night. But enough new bread had been provided for them without the extra.
Much later, a man named Jesus answered a follower who asked how to pray. Part of that response talked about giving "us this day our daily bread". Not tomorrow’s – today’s.
Most of us know these stories, and the prayer, by heart. But we don’t take them to heart.
It’s the same God. He isn’t less powerful now than He was then. He isn’t less caring now than He was then. He provided for those who asked Him for help then, and He provides for those who ask Him today.
So this Thanksgiving, let’s take the time to look at the blessings that we have been provided in the present. It will take longer than one day. It will take one month.
Before closing our eyes at night, let’s spend a few minutes looking for the blessing that we got on that day. It can’t be a generic blessing, like good health, it must be specific to that day. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to recognize it at first. It might be a life-changing event, or it might be finding the last pumpkin squash at the grocery store for your favorite holiday dish. Its size doesn’t matter – its presence does.
As the month goes by, the process not only gets easier, but the blessings seem to become more abundant. They actually were there all along – we just weren’t paying attention.
At the end of the month, which happens to be Christmas this year, we will be awake to the reality that we are not now, and have never been, alone in dealing with whatever "if" tomorrow might bring. And that is truly something to be thankful for.