Thanksgiving is almost here.
It’s one of my favorite times of the year, yet sadly, this distinctly American holiday has really been played down in our nation of late. Doesn’t it seem we go straight from Halloween to Christmas now?
Perhaps one reason we may not see the focus on Thanksgiving as much as we used to is that it can’t be monetized as the other year-end holidays.
But I think there is a different and more significant reason: we either don’t want or know how to give thanks.
As a nation, we have drifted from God. Fewer Americans believe in Jesus Christ and the Bible than before, and that is especially true of younger people. Millennials today seem more drawn to socialism than faith of any kind.
Perhaps we have forgotten just how unique America is and why we have an official holiday called Thanksgiving in the first place.
It may come as a surprise to some to know that our nation was born out of a spiritual awakening, something that could not be said of any other country on the face of the earth.
Our spiritual founding father was a man named George — not George Washington, as important as he was, but a man named George Whitfield.
Whitfield was a British evangelist who proclaimed the gospel to those living in the colonies shortly before we officially became a nation. By the time his ministry was completed, 80% of the colonists heard him in person. Thousands and thousands believed, and a spiritual awakening broke out across what would soon become America.
As my friend radio host and author Eric Metaxas points out in his excellent book, “If You Can Keep It,” it was in the soil of this virtue and morality, which came as a result of people putting their faith in Jesus Christ, that the seeds of liberty could be planted.
That is why President George Washington established this holiday we call Thanksgiving in 1789 by a proclamation that said,
“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.”
Can you imagine both the Congress and the Senate setting a day aside urging us to pray and give thanks to God in our current political climate?
During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln took it a step further as he called for a national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. In a proclamation issued in 1863, Lincoln called our divided union to remember God:
“We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
If that was true in 1863, how much more is it true in 2019?
Yes, we as a nation have forgotten God. But He has not forgotten us.
That is why we should be thankful this Thanksgiving. It’s a day to remind us of God’s faithfulness to us.
The fact is, Thanksgiving is far more important than Halloween or Black Friday, and it stands apart from even Christmas in that it is a day where we are asked to do something: give thanks.
Do you have anything to give thanks for today? I bet you can find a few reasons to be thankful:
You can start with your very life, which is a gift from God.
The breath you are drawing is certainly something to be thankful for.
You can also thank God for your family.
You can give thanks to God if you have a roof over your head and food in your stomach.
You can thank God if you live in the United States and you have freedom and liberty to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
The Bible says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).
Yes, sometimes life is bad, but God is always good. And if you have put your faith in Him you can know that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
So, in this holiday season, let’s not rush by Thanksgiving too quickly. Slow down and pause from the pressure of shopping and just give thanks to God, for He is good.