… the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No 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.excerpted from Abraham Lincoln’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation”, October 3, 1863
The “Thanksgiving Proclamation” is well-known to many Americans. In the midst of the Civil War, this proclamation asked that each citizen take a day to reflect on the many blessings they have been given. The idea of a national holiday for Thanksgiving had been suggested by Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, to several of Lincoln’s predecessors, who all ignored the suggestion in favor of individual state holidays. However, President Lincoln, a God-fearing man dealing with the tragedies that come with civil war, saw the merit in her request as a way to help unify the nation. He responded immediately and issued the proclamation shortly after.
As I look around at the state of our nation today, the idea of civil war isn’t as far away as it once was. We are divided by so many issues it’s impossible to keep track. And yet, a day to pause and take stock of our blessings and similarities has never been more important for our country. Thanksgiving is both about being thankful and showing gratitude to others. There is so much in our life that we take for granted. It’s time to pause and be thankful for the gifts that God has bestowed on us.
In our personal lives we have spouses, children and grandchildren, old and new friends, careers and an ever-increasing array of people and things to be grateful for. And, while we’re at it, we should give thanks to gifts it would never even occur to us to be grateful for, such as the breath in our lungs; our hearts that beat to give us life; the blood flowing through our veins; the senses that our Creator has endowed us with and the gift of being alive during the great technological and societal advances of today.
Thankfulness is particularly crucial to the Christian life; we have the gift of everlasting salvation. In fact, it’s so important that the Bible talks about gratitude in several places, saying that gratitude is critical during the midst of trials and there’s no doubt, we are always being tested.
Call to Action: It’s more important than ever to appreciate each other and our blessings. As we find ourselves on opposite sides in our current political culture, I suggest both sides, regardless of your political or religious affiliation, should remember and react in a grateful manner. With all its faults, America is still the greatest country in the world. We need to be thankful for it and do our part to improve this country and help those less fortunate. Many have lived and died to keep this country free. Now, more than ever, we need our citizens to be full of gratitude and thanksgiving to our veterans and their families. May God forgive us for our infighting and grumbling. My prayer this Thanksgiving is:
God, humble each one of us and humble us as Americans so that our country might be, once again, one nation, under God, and that you will be glorified. Please do whatever it takes to make us a people who are thankful and full of gratitude.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”