This week our nation paused to celebrate the Holiday of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, like many traditions we tend to forget the reason we have this holiday. Beginning with the Pilgrims, who in 1621 set apart a day for thanksgiving at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest; and continuing through George Washington and other U.S. presidents, a day for giving thanks was observed throughout the colonies and the young nation. It was not until 1863, however, that at the height of the Civil War, a national holiday of Thanksgiving was finally formalized by President Abraham Lincoln. In the midst of the most grim and bloodiest war in American history, Lincoln issued this proclamation: “to set apart and observe…a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
The value of Thanksgiving is not just to be grateful for the good things, but also to find Grace in ALL Things. The Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonian Believers:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV - Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
REAL THANKSGIVING is not simply a day on the calendar or a courteous way of interacting socially. (Although it would not hurt our culture to return to some simple niceties, like “Please” and “Thank you”). But the Apostle Paul was not goading the Thessalonians like a parent to a small child, “Now be sure to thank the nice God who has given you life and blessing.” J Rather, he was sharing with the Believers one of the essential Keys and distinctive marks of the Christian Faith: GRATITUDE… THANKFULNESS… THANKSGIVING.
In many ways, gratefulness is a barometer of one’s soul. The more prideful we are over our good fortune or alternately, the more bitter over our misfortune, the less we will be able to express thanksgiving with any measure of authenticity. Unfortunately, instead of an “Age of Enlightenment,” we are now living in an “Age of Entitlement.” The result of which is an ever-increasing level of cynicism, hard-heartedness, and ungratefulness.
The “THANKFULNESS” on the part of the Children of God is a recognition of the GRACE of God within our lives. This is evident not just when things go well, but especially when they do not. UNGRATEFULNESS has become the great SIN of our TIME! We feel that we are entitled to grace, thus, we are no longer grateful for it, however, GRACE IS NOT GRACE IF WE ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE IT. My friends, GOD DOES NOT OWE US ANYTHING, yet He chooses to give us His Love, Mercy, and Blessing.
Romans 11:35 NCV - No one has ever given God anything that he must pay back.
Lincoln offered the declaration of personal and national thanksgiving during times of great personal and national loss: his son had died and the horrors of a bloody war had encircled his every waking moment. Nevertheless, he recognized that God was not to be blamed for calamity, but rather that it was the Lord’s Mercy that brought bounty even in the midst of anguish.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP - In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God…
Dr. Tobey Montgomery