Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks To God

I am fed up with all the “political correctness” in our culture that has taken us way beyond just polite tolerance. We are now to the point that we fear that anything we say might offend someone. In recent years, several major retailers have made official corporate decisions to not say “Merry Christmas.” Instead, I guess they are just going to wish everyone a “Happy Whatever!” And everywhere we look, we see that the names of our religious seasons have all been changed to things like Spring Break, Harvest Celebration, and Winter festivals so that we don’t offend the 14% of our population who don’t want to hear any mention of God. And the increasing use of the term “T-Day” is just about as ridiculous as removing the name of Christ from Christmas and replacing it with an X.

Because we are afraid to offend anyone, when we come to a holiday like “Thanksgiving Day,” we try to express our thankfulness in general without mentioning God in particular. That’s like the story I read about a child who wrote for a classroom assignment, "The pilgrims came here for freedom of ‘you know what.’ When they landed, they gave thanks to ‘you know who’ and because of them, we can worship each Sunday, ‘you know where’."

Regardless of what your children’s revisionist history books say, Thanksgiving Day is not a commemoration about the pilgrims giving thanks to the Indians for saving their lives. Nor is Thanksgiving Day a multi-cultural celebration about Indians; it’s not about pumpkins, corn or even turkey. In fact, it isn’t even about the pilgrims at all.

The first Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1621. The Pilgrims had just endured their first winter. It was a terrible winter in which scores of children and adults had starved to death. They were ready to give up and were about to return to England when another ship arrived with medical supplies, food, and just enough hope to encourage them to remain in the midst of terrible adversity. In spite of all that, they still gave thanks to God.

Two years later William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, said, “Inasmuch as the Father has given us an abundant harvest and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish; and He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship Him according to the dictates of our own conscience; I now proclaim that on Thursday, November 29, 1623, we will render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Thankfulness is a characteristic that should be evident in the lives of God’s people regardless of our circumstances. One man, who learned to move beyond discouragement, went to work at age seven when his family was forced out of their home. When he was nine, his mother died. He lost his job when he was twenty. He wanted to go to law school, but he lacked the education. At age 26 his business partner died leaving him a debt that took years to repay. When he was 28, the woman he loved rejected his marriage proposal. On his third try, he was elected to Congress, at age 37, but then failed to be re-elected. His son died at four years of age. When he was 45, he ran for the Senate and lost. At age 47 he ran for the vice-presidency and lost. But at age 51, Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States.

In the midst of the Civil War, in 1863, Lincoln established our annual celebration of Thanksgiving with this proclamation:
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens.”

God has commanded that we be always thankful recognizing that He is the one who blesses us and provides for us even in times of adversity and great difficulty.

I have especially noticed, this year, how many general expressions of thanks we hear.  People say they are thankful for friends and family, health and wealth, and a myriad of other stuff.  And as important as it is to be thankful, it is more important to direct our thankfulness to the right source of our blessings.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful to God in all things and for all things.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Th. 5:18


Anonymous said...

As much as I despise the tyrant known as Abraham Lincoln, I still recognize that as a good quote.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

That's an iteresting comment, Stan. I don't believe I have ever heard of Lincoln being labled a tyrant but I would be interested in learning more.

Ellery said...

I would think that Stan is refering to (correct me if I am wrong) the violation of states rights that led to the civil war.

Anonymous said...

Yes. That is certainly part of it. Related to it is the idea that the states would be "united" or else they would be attacked militarily. States should be able to leave the "union" if they choose. There is no prohibition of that in the Constitution.