Sarah Hale was a persistent woman. She was the editor of at least two different magazines for women and she used them to promote her view that our country needed to express national thanksgiving to God. After forty years of writing governors and presidents, Sarah’s passion became a reality with the agreement of a new President – named Abraham Lincoln. He seemed the most unlikely candidate to launch a national party of thanksgiving. In fact, when he did agree, it was a time in American history when no one had anything close to a thankful spirit, for the civil war had been raging for several years. In spite of this, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. He actually called his fellow countrymen to repent of their perversity and thank our most high God for his goodness. Since that time, every President has proclaimed Thanksgiving a national observance in November. It was considered the role of each sitting President to declare this day in November a day of Thanksgiving. This has continued to today – except for the year 1865 when Thanksgiving was celebrated in December because President Andrew Johnson forgot.
It’s so easy for us today to forget what Thanksgiving is really about. It has become in our culture the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season and depending on who you ask the time when it becomes ok to finally put up the Christmas tree. Thanksgiving is at its heart a Christian holiday because thankfulness is one of the clearest marks of a genuine Christian.
In 1 Corinthians 4:7, the Apostle Paul gives us a great reminder about why we should be thankful,
What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
There is nothing in this life that we can take credit for. Nothing we have that wasn’t ultimately given to us by our Heavenly Father. Even the things we produce with our talents and skill are only possible because God gave us the skills, talents, gifts, and abilities to do those things. If everything we have is a gift that we have received then we have nothing to boast about, other then about our Great God who has given us so much. If there is any characteristic that should define every Christian it is thankfulness. We are a people who know and understand just how much God has given us.
The devotional book entitled, Springs in the Valley, tells of a man who found a barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart. The man found that the seeds of discouragement were more numerous than any other seed. There were bags of them everywhere. When he asked around, he learned that it was because these seeds of discouragement would grow almost anywhere. When one of the demonic beings was questioned, he reluctantly admitted that there was one place in which they could never get the seeds to take root or thrive. “And where is that?” asked the man. The demon replied, “In the heart of a grateful person.”
It really is impossible to be, at the same time:
- discouraged and grateful;
- anxious and grateful;
- proud and grateful;
- selfish and grateful;
- materialistic and grateful;
- boastful and grateful;
- bitter and grateful;
- hateful and grateful.
As we gather together this Thanksgiving with family and friends to eat delicious food, play games, watch football and get in the post-turkey nap lets not forget to give thanks to the One who has blessed us with everything we have.
This Thanksgiving lets boast about our Great God!