Few in law enforcement will accumulate great wealth created by the profession. While our wages vary in different areas of the country, for the most part, they are sufficient if used wisely. It was a profession that provided just enough for my family, and for that I am thankful.
When the pilgrims settled in New England in December of 1620, they were unprepared for starvation and the sickness of a harsh winter. They lost nearly half their population before the following spring. Can you imagine the mourning that occurred? It is often said that most people find God—or run from Him—through tragedy and crisis. The pilgrims were already people of deep faith, so they turned to God in fervent prayer.
Whether you believe in prayer to the Almighty does not change the fact that the pilgrims did. After a bountiful harvest from the summer months, they declared a three-day feast to celebrate and give thanks.
More than 200 years later Sarah Hale began a 30-year campaign promoting a national Thanksgiving Day. Finally, President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday in November as a national day of thankfulness. But it wasn’t until 1941 that Congress officially declared it a national holiday.
The Battle of Gettysburg occurred in July of 1863 leading to the loss of some 60,000 American lives. It has been reported that Lincoln became a man of sincere faith as he walked among thousands of graves there. Lincoln explained to a friend, “When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.” 1
Four months later Lincoln gave the famous Gettysburg Address. It was about the same time he uttered the lesser-known Thanksgiving Proclamation in which he said in part:
To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart, which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. …
[N]o human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.2
Be mindful that Lincoln gave this proclamation right in the middle of the Civil War. Things were not exactly peaceful and harmonious. There were cavernous political differences, strife was at an apex, and unrest was commonplace while people were dying. Sounds eerily similar to modern day America!
But the original settlers were thankful for just enough to get by during their crisis, and so was Lincoln.
There was a man named Agur who wrote a Proverb along these lines. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’”3
Agur was also thankful for just enough.
Retrospect is a great teacher. That is why history lessons are valuable. We can learn from the past in order to avoid mistakes in the future. It is why we debrief critical incidents in law enforcement—to avoid duplicitous errors.
Modern culture is unsettled. Lessons from history have been forgotten. There is a growing discontent with just enough to get by. We want wealth regardless of how it’s obtained. Many are willing to sell their soul to accumulate material goods or have become comfortable demanding it from others.
Our industriousness is a great value when in comes to ingenuity and creativity. But it also creates prosperity. When affluence is inherited, respect for its’ achievement can be diminished, leading to conflict and true appreciation for possession of it—a genuine social problem encountered by some.
Too often the pursuit of wealth has also led to greed—the vice that corrodes like battery acid destroying everything it contacts. The shattered elements of life include businesses, governments, organizations, relationships, and families. All because trust is absent and the almighty dollar replaces God Almighty, or other replicate convictions, as a source of contentment.
So this Thanksgiving, regardless of your spiritual persuasion or financial means, may I suggest that we all give thanks for just enough—food on the table, money to pay bills, roof overhead, bounty on our shelves, and the resources necessary to cope. If you have trust with others and shared love with friends and family, you indeed live in abundance and have just enough!
– Jim McNeff
- http://christiananswers.net/q-wall/wal-g007.html (November 25, 2019)
- http://christiananswers.net/q-wall/wal-alincoln-tgiving.html (November 25, 2019)
- Proverbs 30:8-9, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Jim worked in military and civilian law enforcement for thirty-one years. While in the USAF he flew as a crewmember aboard the National Emergency Airborne Command Post—a presidential support detail. Following his military service, he served for twenty-eight years with the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County, California where he retired as a lieutenant. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Southwest University and graduated from the prestigious Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute as well as the IACP course, Leadership in Police Organizations.