This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.
I haven’t had the opportunity to travel all over the world. I traveled to France for 2 weeks in college (and it was both fun and enlightening.) I’ve always wanted to travel to countries like England, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Greece, India and Japan, but I have not yet had the opportunity. I love so many things from all over the world—the different foods, the history, the contributions to literature, the accents, dialects, the music and the cultures. I am thankful for other countries too!
Yet, in all this, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the blessings afforded to me by my United States citizenship. These blessings include the following:
While many of our freedoms have been eroded over the past century, the fact remains that I am still free. I can worship without persecution. I can speak my mind about policies and politicians without being tortured or permanently silenced. I have the ability to own a gun to protect myself and my family. I can travel throughout the country without being interrogated. I can participate in the election process. I can even run for office if I am crazy enough to do so. I can choose to pursue wealth or live simply.
I enjoy freedom.
As I stated in my post about military veterans, and other posts about military—I am thankful to the men and women who have fought to keep our country free. This country would not exist if courageous men and women had not put their lives and livelihoods on the line.
In my short lifetime, I have not seen war—in all it’s ugliness—on American soil. I have seen men declaring war by flying planes into buildings, but I haven’t actually been in a full scale war zone. In the L.A. Riots, Hurricane Katrina, the Baltimore and Ferguson protests, people attempted to create war zones by rioting and looting, but it was put to a stop. There aren’t bombs dropping overhead. The military don’t patrol the streets with AK-47s or M16s on their shoulders.
I am thankful that my children have not had to witness violence. I am thankful that I don’t live in fear of men beating down my door and using my house as a military quarters.
There is always the potential for peace to be shattered. I know it could be gone in an instant. At this moment in time, all is quiet in my little corner of the country. I am thankful for the peace that I have enjoyed for so many years and that I still have at this brief moment in history.
If there is one thing we are truly blessed with here in the States, it is the vast amount of natural beauty carefully preserved for future generations. People travel from all over the world to visit places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Alaska, Sequoia and the Rocky Mountains. We are so blessed to have such an abundance!
I will never forget my 3-year old daughter’s exclamation of joy when the Grand Canyon came into view for the first time. Her eyes grew huge and she shouted, “That’s a BIG CANYON!!!!” It’s an understatement, but she in her limited vocabulary she was trying to express how awestruck she was feeling.
The sequoia redwoods—giant trees—invoke similar feelings. (I wouldn’t want to be near a falling Sequoia tree.) I hope that as my children continue to grow, we will be able to show them the astounding wonders of God’s creation in these strikingly beautiful places.
The United States is not a perfect country.
Yes. I really said that.
Most of our politicians are corrupt. Many of our citizens are lazy. The ability to reason is a lost art. People care more about the suicide of some fool celebrity than the heroic sacrifice of a soldier.
Nope. It’s not perfect, and I am thankful.
Before you start shouting at the screen, read on…
It’s only natural that we desire a pleasant life. After all, we have to live it. Who seeks out misery? We want our government to be perfectly just and administered by politicians with integrity. We hope for informed citizenry and compassionate society. But remember this: as long as we are here on this earth, there will be corruption, immorality, poverty, sickness and death. As long as Satan roams about this decaying globe, there will never be perfection.
When faced with the foibles of my country, I am forcefully reminded that I am just a traveller on this earth. My true country lies elsewhere.
In Hebrews 11 (the Heroes of Faith chapter), the author talks about Abraham, Noah and Sarah, then remarks:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
~ Hebrews 11.13-16, ESV
I long for that country. I ache for that place where the soul doesn’t die. I yearn to be surrounded by friends of God and join in their songs of praise. I want to know if it is “a far green country under a swift sunrise” as Gandalf describes it in The Lord of the Rings.
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
~ C.S. Lewis
It’s easier to bear with the troubles of the United States knowing that a better country is waiting for me after I die.
For all it’s faults, I am still thankful to live here in the United States of America, and I am thankful to all the men and women who have sacrificed to make it the nation that it is.