I learned in kindergarten all about Thanksgiving Day. The pilgrims started the tradition to thank Jehovah for safe passage, survival, bountiful food and friendships with the Indians. I still have a 5 year old picture of that day in my head – I see a long wooden table with two benches on either side, pilgrims dressed in their finest black and white ensembles, Indians with their colorful face paintings and beautiful feathered headdresses sporadically sitting with their new friends.
Fast forward to 1863, when President Lincoln designated the last Thursday of November to be a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” He made that proclamation during the Civil War, one of the worst periods in American history.
Now if anyone could find a million reasons not to be thankful, it would be pilgrims and Lincoln.
The pilgrims endured a transatlantic voyage on a dirty, wooden ship, not a multi-million dollar cruise ship where you have your own state room along with food and beverage showing up 24/7. Hundreds lost their lives and never saw the promised land. They arrive in the north, God bless ‘em – not the most pleasant year round climate, for sure. Pilgrims endured harsh winters, Indian attacks and new diseases. They could have – and maybe did – put the grumbling Israelites to shame with their complaints.
President Lincoln was taking a stand against one of the biggest atrocities this nation has ever been a part of – ownership of another human being. The nation was split in two, brothers fighting brothers, death and destruction from Boston to Atlanta. America was on the verge of going down in literal flames, and he certainly could have – and maybe did – gripe about being President during this time.
With all the turmoil and chaos, death and destruction surrounding them it would be easy to be mad at God, to fuss at Him for all He didn’t do. Thankfully these were God fearing people, and they made the choice to thank Jehovah for everything despite their circumstances, despite how they saw the world that day. They chose to thank God for all He had done, for all He would do and for all the blessings they had received from their heavenly Father.
So today, even if your circumstances are desperate, chaotic, depressing or just simply not what you want, thank Him. Thank God for it all – the good and the bad. Thank Him for His great love for you, for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Your circumstances may not change, but your attitude will.
“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)
Just be thankful. Always.
And if you’ve never read Lincoln’s proclamation (I admit I hadn’t until I wrote this) here’s a link to it. It’s a great reminder of why we should always be thankful: Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclomation
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