Lessons from the 1940s – Freedom from Want

How could I resist this poster for Thanksgiving week?

On January 6, 1941, in his State of the Union Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that everyone deserved four fundamental freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. At the time, the Axis dictators stifled freedom of speech and worship, and conquered peoples lived in great fear and want.

The United States was just coming out of the Great Depression. People knew true want. More correctly, they understood true need.

Now, even though we’re in a recession, we still don’t understand true need – our nation’s primary health problem is not malnutrition but obesity. But want still consumes us.

Freedom from want doesn’t come from more money, more things, more food. It comes from gratitude. It comes from contentment. It comes from remembering those in need.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it makes me pause and focus on the blessings in my life. Stop and look around you and give thanks for all you see – your family, the overflowing refrigerator, the possessions. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have, and give thanks to God for all the good things He gives.

The Bible calls coveting a sin because at its root, coveting shows dissatisfaction with what God’s given us. In His eyes, we look like a child on Christmas morning, surrounded by piles of opened gifts who says, “Is that all?” Being content with what we have – even content in great need – shows God trust and gratitude, and produces peace and joy in us. Now that’s true freedom.

Remembering those in need – through finances, food, gifts, your time, or your prayers – puts things in proper perspective, reminds us just how blessed we are, and spreads the blessing to others. A generous spirit is not dissatisfied.

This Thanksgiving, how can you find true freedom from want?