A Season of Gratitude
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson
“These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.” – 2 Samuel 23:8 (KJV)
It is already November 2021! Can you believe it?
I’ve been wondering, “Where has this year gone?”
Since the end of World War I, we in the United States of America have celebrated Armistice Day on Nov. 11. This is because the armistice that ended World War I was effected on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. It is an unforgettable time and date for an event that the entire world noted and reflected upon for the first time in 1919.
November has also become known as the month of gratitude.
At the end of WWI most people believed that there would never be a war like that again. Yet, 20 years later the world was warring again. WWII lasted six years, but it involved more soldiers globally than did WWI.
Nine years after the cessation of World War II, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day. In doing so, this annual celebration of valor would perpetually include all of the men and women who served in defense of the United States of America and our allies.
War is antithetical to the character and will of God. Because of original sin there will be conflicts and casualties until the world order is divinely reset after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Because there will be conflict, encroachments and violations of civility and humanity, there must be people who will prepare for and respond to evil advancements. These are our first responders along with soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians.
Celebrating warriors, patriots and patriarchs is biblical. The Old Testament book of 2 Samuel, chapter 23 gives a list of 37 men of valor. As he neared the end of his life, King David paid homage to the men who valiantly fought, with supernatural ability, to protect Israel.
In chapter four of the book of Judges, two women are lauded for their valor in combat: Deborah, (a prophetess who led 10,000 men into battle) and Jael (the wife of a diplomat who assassinated an enemy of Israel named Sisera).
The fifth chapter of the book of Judges is a song of honor. It was a national celebration that extolled the providence of God in delivering Israel from warmongering neighbors. While these stories of valor include miracles, they also demonstrate that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Honoring the valiant among us who invested years of their lives in the service of our nation is a good thing. Decades ago, some churches posted the names of congregational members who were veterans. Those who were killed in combat were differentiated on the plaques. I have not seen that lately, but I always thought it was a good idea.
November 11 is a good day to express some gratitude to the veterans in our social circle. If you know a veteran, say a kind word or share a blessing with them.
A few years ago, my daughter and I went out to dinner on Veterans Day. We wore some of our military swag. When we were ready to pay the bill, the waiter told us that our bill had already been paid. He pointed across the room to a man who was having dinner with his family. As we were leaving the restaurant, we stopped by his table to say thank you. He was a patriot who could not serve, but he was profuse in his sincere appreciation for those of us who did.
Nationalism can be leveraged inappropriately, but national service should be affirmed. During the month of gratitude (November), look for someone who serves in your community and affirm them. I usually leave an envelope with a small gift for the mailman and greet the men who collect our garbage with a gift at Christmastime.
Unexpected affirmations carry more weight than those that are expected. Join me, this month, in affirming those who served in the military and showing gratitude to the civil servants in our community.
Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for the men and women of valor who served in the military. Thank you for those civil servants who provide security and support within our communities. Bless them because of their devotion to duty. As we honor them, may our gifts of affirmation be like prayers to you. Enlarge our deeds and offerings of gratitude. Like the fish and the loaves that Jesus used to feed thousands, may the magnitude of our gratitude be larger than the substance of our gifts. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.
Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.
He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.
You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address, firstname.lastname@example.org.