A Pig Pen Thanksgiving
A woman was visiting some people who lived on a farm when she noticed a pig limping in the backyard with a wooden leg. She asked the farmer, "What happened to the pig?" The farmer said, "Oh, Betsy is a wonderful pig. One night the house caught fire and she oinked so loud she woke us and we got the fire truck here in time to save the house." The woman said, "That’s really something!" The farmer continued, "That’s not all. One day my youngest fell in the pond and Betsy oinked so loud that she got our attention and we were able to pull my daughter out of the pond in time." The woman said, "That’s really amazing! But I still don’t understand why the pig has a wooden leg.” The farmer said, "Well, when you have a pig that special, you don’t want to eat it all at once!"
Jesus tells another story that involves a pig—the parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s one of the most familiar parables Jesus told. A man had two sons. The younger son decided he wanted his share of the inheritance now. He didn’t want to wait until his father died. So, the father shelled out a large sum of money and gave it to his younger son. This young man lived “high on the hog” for a while. But when his money ran out, his friends did too, and the young prodigal was left to fend for himself. The economy was in deep recession, so the only job he could get was feeding pigs. He was so hungry that the pods he was feeding to the pigs began to look good to him. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you’re competing with pigs on their home field for slop. So the young prodigal swallowed his pride and headed home, hoping his father would take him on as a hired hand. But the father welcomed his son home, and threw a big party to celebrate. The elder son was miffed, and refused to join in the celebration.
Both of these stories involving pigs raise a pertinent question: Just how deep does your gratitude run for God? It might not run as deeply as you think. Consider the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He had plenty to be thankful for, yet he chose to pout about his brother’s homecoming instead of enjoying the family Thanksgiving feast. These two brothers have more in common than their status as sons of the same father. Each of them chose to wallow in something disgusting. The younger brother wallowed with the pigs while the older brother wallowed in bitterness and self-pity. Which was worse? At least the younger brother realized what he was doing and climbed out of the pig pen. The older brother stayed right where he was.
Here’s the underlying question for all of us—how can someone who has received so many blessings be so extremely ungrateful? If anyone should have been absolutely contented, shouldn’t it have been the older brother? It’s amazing, isn’t it, that doing all the right things, possessing the benefits of estate living do not guarantee a grateful heart? If there is anything we should learn from this parable it’s this—there is no joy in life apart from a grateful heart.