This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, an annual holiday since 1863 when, in the midst of a Civil War, President Lincoln called on the people of this nation to set aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” for His blessings on the war-torn nation.
The holiday has changed in 151 years which have followed Lincoln’s proclamation. Slowly it has morphed into a celebration of consumerism, at first imperceptibly shifting from a day of giving thanks to becoming a simple gathering for family, football and feasting. Now the pace of change has quickened as families gather to pour over ads and then excuse themselves from the pumpkin pie in order to form lines at the mall for early bird specials. The kick-off for a very black weekend.
Of course there is nothing sacred about the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving isn’t important because we need a certain day to give thanks – or even because God needs a day to receive thanks. What we do need, however, is a reminder to give thanks, much like a young child who joyfully receives a gift without expressing gratitude only to hear the reminder, “Can you say, ‘Thank you’?”
The consequences of not learning to express gratitude can be severe. “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me” (Hosea 13:6). Like the child, we can get so caught up in the joy of the gift that we forget the Giver. Our senses become dull and we become ungrateful.
President Lincoln wisely directed the hearts of a hurting nation to the Source of all blessings when he observed, “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.” Since that proclamation, our nation has received an annual nudge when the calendar coaxes us to say, “Thank you.”
As Thanksgiving approaches, join me in meditating daily on God’s blessings and expressing gratitude to Him. Here are some helpful ways to remember to say “Thank you” to God:
- Memorize Ephesians 5:20 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
- Enumerate and meditate on God’s blessings to believers in Ephesians 1:1-14.
- Choose a Psalm of praise each day and slowly pray through the verses.
- Read Lincoln’s 1963 Thanksgiving Day
- As you think of God’s mercies and grace, remember to say “Thank You!”
Author: GGF President Frosty Hansen