Who is Disadvantaged at Thanksgiving?

I got home from Zambia Friday afternoon, so happy to be back in my cozy home with a soft bed.

When I left, the trees were painted glorious and Halloween was immanent.  When I returned the trees were sad and bare, the sky gray, and Thanksgiving almost upon us.

The night I got home, I went to my gratitude journal which I hadn’t taken with me. I brought it up to date, adding the following to my list of things I’m thankful for:

  • Real toilets you can sit down on (as opposed to a hole in the ground)
  • Air conditioning (when it’s 97 degrees) and heat (when it’s 29 degrees and snowing, like this morning)
  • Good roads, traffic lights, and traffic laws that are (basically) adhered to (and a car to drive)
  • Dependable electricity that doesn’t capriciously shut off (I heard a story on MPR yesterday on what happens in the developing world when electricity goes off in the middle of an operation in a hospital.  Not good.)
  • WiFi
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables that are safe to eat
  • Clean, unlimited water I can drink safely out of a faucet in my home

These are NOT things that my friends in the slum in Lusaka could list, and yet last Sunday they spent an entire hour in praise and worship for the God who they know who is faithful and sufficient.


(You can’t see it, but the line for water from the pump curves around to the right of the picture for a long way.  They could have used signs like at Disney World – 30 minutes from this point…)

You know that verse, “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”? Well, it seems like they take it seriously!  Go figure!  And this is not just lip service, but sincere praise with song and dance.

Contrast this with yesterday at my home church where we sang a couple of praise songs, and tossed up a couple of prayers like we were tossing candy off a parade float.

It’s not that we don’t appreciate God, but maybe that’s it.  We appreciate Him without truly acknowledging Him as the source of all that we have and are.  We just live without awareness.

We think of people in the developing world as “disadvantaged”, but maybe it’s really we who need that label.  Our abundance in the United States may be one of the things hindering a more intimate relationship with God.  Wasn’t control and desire for autonomy the root of Adam and Eve’s sin?  The more we have, the more we can live with the illusion of independence, right?  Why would we need God?

This is not to shame anyone, but a desire to live fully alive to God… A reminder to look around at all the things we take for granted and praise God that He has graciously given us all that we have.

What do you overlook that you’re thankful for today?


  1. Thank you for this reminder for all of us, whether we are just breezing through our day oblivious to our blessings or the plight of others, or in the middle of a pity party, or if we are in a seriously dark struggle. There is always something to be grateful to God for, even if just for a moment. True joy is rooted in gratitude, and we have MUCH to be thankful for, to the God who calls us His beloved and who sees us. Blessings to you, Laura!

  2. I think of Phil and Beth, who were wheel-chair bound young people with CP that we used to transport to our church in Santa Barbara. Beth used an alphabet board on her lap tray to communicate and loved her Big Mac after church, and Phil, who could not walk but could get down on the floor and wrestle with our son, always had a smile and praise for the Lord. They were a great example.

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