How can we be thankful in a year marked by unrest and strife? The same way we always have.
This Thanksgiving, we wanted to publish some reflections on gratitude from IFF’s fellows & friends. Check them out below!
Isaac Willour ‘24
As I write this, the world is facing down two major conflicts in different parts of the globe: one raising tremendous geopolitical concerns, the other serving to amplify many of the questions the West is asking about legacy, human rights, and the right to exist as a free state. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost. How are we supposed to be thankful?
If there’s one thing I’ve realized from covering the human costs of war, it’s that there’s a tremendous difference between hope and optimism. There’s precious little optimism to be had right now, it seems. And yet I’m thankful for hope. Hope is what drives the victims of war to begin the impossible task of rebuilding. It’s what drives the brokenhearted and the grieving to pick up the pieces and start over.
And it’s what should be driving us, the decadent heirs of the West, to a true thankfulness for the peace and prosperity that God has seen fit to bless us with. When we have the freedom that others don’t have, our obligation becomes clear: to fight for those without our position and privilege. God is showing us this against a truly tragic backdrop—thanks be to Him for making this mission clear.
Hunter Oswald ‘24
Every year when Thanksgiving comes around, I always get asked the question “What am I grateful for?” Such a question has always been hard to answer, as I am grateful for so much that the good Lord has provided me with. But amongst the things that I am grateful for, it is my loving and caring family that I feel the most grateful for amongst the things that God has provided me. Anyone can have a family, but to live with those that will put aside their own interests while facing their personal difficulties to support those that they love is truly a loving family.
When looking at the things in my life that allowed me to prosper, my family has always been there when I needed inspiration for my work, supported me through tough times, and been there for me. As my parents have always told me, “friends will come and go, but family will always be there.” While everyone is enjoying the great food and camaraderie of this year’s thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks for the greatest blessing, standing right beside me.
Jacob Feiser ‘24
This Thanksgiving, I am reminded by how much luxury I enjoy coming home to a dry home with heat that keeps my family warm. I am reminded by how many different things I either have access to or can order online: books, art prints, even new clothes. I am grateful for these material blessings bestowed by God, and I do not take them lightly. But even more than these things, I am grateful for the immaterial blessings of the Church as a family and as the cohesive body of Christ.
Coming back to my home church has allowed me to further enjoy the company of saints in corporate worship and in other areas of life. When the body of Christ comes together to glorify him, what more is there to be thankful for? Maybe only a delicious Thanksgiving meal with the family, too.
Joseph Wolcott ‘24
There’s a lot to be thankful for, especially in this last year. It could all be summed up in God’s providence. I am who I am and I have what I have because of God’s goodness. I’m thankful that God gave me faithful Christian parents who have raised me to glorify God and enjoy him. Futher, I’m thankful for my home church, for its sound preaching, solid doctrine, and excellent community. I’m thankful for all of the friends that God has given me and the ways that he has used them to build me up, challenge me, and grow me as a person.
Also, I’m thankful for the education I received and how God used it to prepare me well for life. I’m thankful for Grove City College, for its excellent community, rigorous academics, and faculty that genuinely want us to succeed. I’m thankful for the Institute for Faith and Freedom, for giving me the freedom to run my content. Lastly, I’m thankful for the ways in which God has answered my prayers and given me clarity on his plan for my future. There’s a lot more that I could say, but these are some of the big ones that have been on my mind. Soli Deo gloria!
Dr. Michael Coulter ‘91, Professor of Political Science
There are so many things to be thankful for. Faith and family are first among those things. But, I want to express my thankfulness for books and ideas and getting to share them with students. I get to read and re-read and have conversations about ‘classic’ authors like Plato, Aristotle and Augustine nearly every semester with students.
These books are thoughtful, engaging and provocative. Having taught them for nearly 30 years, they are like familiar friends. It’s not only classic works to be thankful for, but many recent scholarly works provide insights into our humanness that are worthy of consideration.
Cara Scott ‘24
I’m thankful to go to a college where, instead of being one out of a hundred students sitting in a huge lecture hall listening to a professor who doesn’t know my name speak into a microphone. Most of my classes have no more than twelve students. I am thankful that my professors greet me by name when they pass me in the hallway and ask about my plans for the future.
I’m thankful for my philosophy professors who invite the entire department to their houses for soup nights. I am thankful for my French professors who organize numerous opportunities for students to practice their language skills outside of the classroom. I’m thankful for the professors who make the academic experience at Grove City so wonderful.
Liliana Zylstra ‘25
Today I’m thankful for coffee, spending time outdoors, and family and friends nicer to me than I deserve.
Most of all, I’m thankful to serve an all-powerful God who promises to be with me wherever I go. “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:9-10.
Dr. Brian Dellinger ‘07, Professor of Computer Science
I suspect many of us will give the same first answer here, but it comes first because it is true. Of all gifts we have been given, the greatest is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Beyond that gift, the greatest treasure I have is my wife Allison. She is my partner, my helper, my encouragement, my friend.
But to go in a different direction, I’m thankful for when we are alive. Leafing through the pages of the Old Testament, you see the same requests for blessings appear again and again: for health, for life, for prosperity. These are merely temporal goods, to be sure; they pale in comparison to Christ. But they are good, and like all good things, they are a gift of the Father that we cannot merit.
And in this age, He has given those things to us in undeserved abundance. So, so many of us live in comfort, when bare centuries ago we would not have lived at all. These gifts do not obviate the real human suffering that remains. Nor do they erase those for whom backbreaking labor or starvation are still realities. But those conditions were once universalities. We live in a world that is more clean, more safe, more healthy, more fed than any since man’s fall.
How can we be other than grateful?