Giving thanks in lean times

Thanksgiving is a time not only to give thanks to God for our bounty, but also a time to remind ourselves of life's essentials.

Suraiya and her father
Suraiya and her father, fleeing a military offensive in South Waziristan, Pakistan, wait for supplies at a distribution point for internally displaced persons.
Photo: REUTERS/ Akhtar Soomro, courtesy

Thanksgiving is a time not only to give thanks to God for our bounty, but also a time to remind ourselves of life's essentials.

In some homes and communities this season, both in the U.S. and around the world, there is precious little bounty.  A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released this week reveals that the number of U.S. households struggling with hunger is at a 14-year high.  Perhaps you or someone you know is among those for whom daily bread cannot be taken for granted.

In a recent address, the Rev. John L. McCullough, Church World Service's executive director and CEO, affirmed the spirit of hope cited in the Apostle Paul's first letter to the congregation at Thessalonica.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…
1 Thessalonians 5:16

McCullough found that Paul's words contain welcome truths for Church World Service's work as we celebrate Thanksgiving and the bounty of harvest, even in these lean times.  God calls us to be faithful, to trust and to dream big dreams.

"We are called to be guardians of the dreams,” said McCullough, “and to resist the temptation to turn away from the hurts and pains…  If we can only decide to work together…” said McCullough.

That vision calls for working together to protect and nurture God's creation so that there is enough for all – a theme championed by Church World Service as it looks to meet the challenges posed by hunger, poverty and climate change, and ways to promote just and ecologically sustainable development.

In adapting the theme "Enough for All" as a way to look at our relief and development efforts, Church World Service is taking a holistic approach, believing that rich countries in particular need to reconsider their policies and lifestyles so that, together, we can create a more abundant world for all, minimizing the prevalence of hunger, poverty and disease.

In his recent address, McCullough noted that in a nation of plenty, there are still questions about how to define "what is enough."  While Americans are among the top 20 percent of the richest people in the world, he said, the United States has the widest gap of personal wealth, between rich and poor, of any industrialized nation.

McCullough says we should give thanks for the bounty of harvests and for what we have, but we should also heed the urgent challenge of poverty in the midst of plenty, for "there is enough food that no one should go hungry, enough water that no one should thirst, and enough love that all children should reach their potential."

We approach Thanksgiving, then, with reverence and appreciation for your help, your unflagging partnership throughout the year.  And this year, your prayers and support are more important than ever. 

Through your support of our ministry and your participation in CROP Hunger Walks, U.S. pantries and soup kitchens--though stretched--have more than they would otherwise, and are offering a helping hand to families during tough times. And around the world, your support for emergency relief and grassroots development is helping families and communities become stronger and more self-sufficient. 

We give thanks for you, for your generosity of spirit, and for your continuing prayers and support.  God bless you for the difference you're making in the lives of neighbors in need at home and around the world!


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