As we enter November and draw close to Thanksgiving, we feel nudged to count our blessings, to ponder the things we’re thankful for, and to praise God for His goodness and care.
This year, however, life seems different. We’re inundated with images of war, poverty, natural calamities—and very angry people. None of this is new, but somehow we seem to be experiencing a greater intensity of events, more fear for the future, and increased concern regarding rapid change.
According to the USDA, more than 34 million people in the United States, including some 9 million children, are food insecure. The Feeding America website states that “every community in the country is home to families who face hunger,” and in 2021 alone, about 53 million people sought help from community food programs.1
The growing number of displaced people is also overwhelming to consider. As of May 2022, 100 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide largely because of conflicts and human rights violations.
Natural disasters are regular occurrences, and in the first half of 2022 have mostly been weather-related. “Tornadoes in the U.S. caused billions in damage, parts of eastern coastal Australia were submerged by floods, and southern Europe struggled with extreme heat, wildfires and drought.”2
Also disturbing is rising anger and hate, attributed by some to racism, coronavirus response, and “American politicians [stoking] voter anger for their own electoral advantage.”3
Considering all this, can we still find blessings to be thankful for? Absolutely we can! One thing that rises to the top is caring people. Those who set aside personal convenience and prioritize helping others. Countless large organizations worldwide are daily fighting food insecurity and aiding individuals affected by natural and other disasters, including ADRA and Adventist Community Services. Local church programs are also involved.
In my own small local church in Meridian, Idaho, members Diana and Gary Wyland head an active community service ministry. Together with numerous church volunteers and food donations from the local food bank and restaurants, the Wylands—who both hold full-time jobs—feed about 130 homeless people every month. They and their team also provide food staples through the church’s food pantry to some 70 community families, or 250 individuals. And they don’t stop there. The group provides adult and children’s clothing to those in need, rides to the hospital, the painting and cleaning of homes, and other assistance.
“We’re seeing the needs increase,” says Diana, who joined the Adventist Church only four years ago. “Inflation is driving more people to seek various types of assistance to fight off expenses or endure stretches of joblessness.”
As we enjoy the Thanksgiving season with family and friends, eating pumpkin pie and tofu turkey, let’s remember those on the front lines of the war on poverty and destruction and despair and be thankful for the help and hope they provide. What would the world be like without them?
1 https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/ food-insecurity