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John and Dan, shipwrecked and deserted on a small, uninhabited island, had different reactions.

John, without a word, used his energy to swim up to the island, then walk ashore and sit down against a palm tree, catching his breath. Dan nearly didn’t make it because he used so much energy crying and screaming while swimming to the island.

“We’re going to die! We’re going to die! There’s no food, no water. This island isn’t even on the map. No one will even know we are here! We’re going to die!”

It drove Dan even crazier that John was so calm.

“Don’t you understand? We’re going to die!”

But John simply replied, “But YOU don’t understand. I make $100,000 a week!”

Dan looked at John as though he were truly off his rocker.

“What good will your money do when we are on a deserted island with no food or water? Don’t you get it? We’re going to die!”

John replied calmly, “No, YOU don’t get it. I make over $100,000 a week and I tithe to my church. That means I give my church more than $10,000 every week. Trust me, my preacher will find me.”

In this Thanksgiving season, my favorite time of the year, we are reminded that God had a plan for our security and comfort from the very beginning. His plan expected gratitude from us, and an attitude of desiring to give as much back to our Lord as we could give. Knowing we could never outgive God¸still we desire to show Him our appreciation for the great bounty He has provided.

From the first pictures of the pilgrims sharing that great meal with the Native Americans who met them for what some call that first Thanksgiving feast, we see a one-word title: Gratitude. Why?

The journey across the ocean had been long and hard. Loved ones had died and grief was still fresh in their minds. Yet they thanked God for their bounty.

Bounty? We would not likely consider what they possessed to have been bountiful. But they felt blessed to be alive, to share in a feast of fresh, abundant game, and vegetables their new friends provided.

Today, the secret of thanksgiving is not a one-time event, but a culture of “thanksliving,” based on a trust in Almighty God. It was this trust that brought the pilgrims to the new country.

What is it we trust today to attain security and comfort in knowing God will sustain us? It is his powerful Word once again. Listen: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (the necessities of life mentioned earlier) will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Further, God’s advice adds, “In humility let each one consider another better than himself.” (Philippians 2:3b)

Paul, who wrote these words from the mouth of God, also said this, “Be kindly affectionate toward one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (over your own selves).” (Romans 12:10)

How simple! Seek to please God first. Consider the needs of others above your own needs. Then trust God to take care of you. So why are we amazed when He does? No wonder our gratitude overflows toward the great Sustainer of all the earth and causes us to desire to help others as He has helped us.

Pay it forward this winter, watching for those in special need through the coming cold.

You may contact Tom Haynie at tom.julie.haynie@gmail.com