Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This is the day that has been given over for many years in this country to stop and give thanks to God for all that He has done. It has a longstanding tradition in our country. A quick perusal of the history of this celebration reminds us that our country has not always been what it is now. If you have never seen it before, take a look at George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1789:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks — for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. — Given under my hand at the City of New York, the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
We have nothing that is not given to us by God. This may offend some who think there is no God, but I am not going to apologize for it or waver on it at all. There is a lot of turmoil in our country and in our world, but it is not shocking or unexpected. Some of the turmoil is a direct result of the fact that we have neglected to recognize or give appreciation (dare I say thanks) to God for all that we have in this nation. It is axiomatic that when you forget the source of ALL that is good, you will lose that which is good. We have forgotten our Source in this country for the most part. We talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but all of these are meaningless apart from God. Life itself is a gift and ALL that we have is a gift, not of chance or happenstance, but of Providence i.e. the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Liberty is given through His Son, Jesus Christ, and it isn’t the kind of liberty that turns to anarchy where each does what is right in his own eyes. It is the kind of liberty that recognizes the boundaries of true freedom lies within God’s Kingdom and His reign. Only then can true happiness be found. Happiness that doesn’t consist of what we have or can get, but rather in is found in relationship with the One who truly loves us as we are and works within us to make us even more than we realize we could be.
We had an incredible day today. Even though we were far from our family of flesh and blood, we were together with some of our family in the Lord and it was a great thing. I count it a privilege every time I consider what God has blessed us with, both the people and the things that we have in our life. We are blessed beyond measure or the capacity of words to convey. I am blessed with a wife who loves to serve and show compassion to others and who can also manage to juggle so many things at once that it makes my head spin. My kids are also a blessing and gift from the Lord and touch my heart in so many ways, more than I can name or number. My church family is so special to me and we had a couple of them in our home today. Men who would have otherwise spent the day alone in all likelihood, instead came and spent time with us and brightened our day. The meal was good too and I didn’t overdo it.
In all these things, I have only scratched the surface. I pray that you would remember today to be thankful and more importantly to give thanks to God for all things.