In dark times with many challenges our forefathers paused to give thanks to God for his help and goodness, from their hearts. That’s good advice for us today. Let’s pause privately to do so where we are, and then in families and corporately wherever we can.
The roots of Thanksgiving as celebrated in the United States were recently spelled out to me beautifully by one of my best friends and spiritual mentors Charles Angel. You can read his article here.
Some historical insights he brings to light will warm your heart and refresh your mind as to God’s help in America’s rise to greatness, greatness we have enjoyed and enjoy today. Reflect and give thanks!
“As Thanksgiving approaches, which begins the Christmas season celebration, I think it remains relevant to remember those who braved a sixty-six day arduous voyage on the Mayflower to establish Plymouth in 1620 and set up the foundations for the God-given right of freedom for this Nation’s future generations. These Pilgrims chose to stand for the truth without compromise and for the hope that they and their posterity could experience liberty under God. It cost them everything to lay the groundwork of the most prosperous and free nation in history.
Their significant document, The Mayflower Compact, placed in the hands of the people the right to create laws and constitutions under God’s direction. This document became a basis for more than eighty colonial charters and covenants that laid the foundation for America’s Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It set the direction for this Nation, reading in part:
“…having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith...”
Then about 150 years later…
…That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:
“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. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.”
Then about 70 years later…
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving proclamation setting aside the last Thursday of that November. Despite the difficult circumstances, Lincoln called Americans to prayer with an air of positive optimism and genuine thankfulness, noting:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . 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.”
So, in light of the above-noted statements and deeds that laid out the course of action and standards for America, what say you regarding how this great Republic is measuring up in 2013? Is Almighty God glorified by the actions of this nation? Is the Christian faith being advanced by the administrative, legislative and judicial branches of government at the federal, state and local levels? Is the Church significantly influencing secular society? To say that there seem to be a few “chinks in the armor’s integrity” would certainly be an understatement!
However, if we only look at the results of mankind’s efforts to meet the lofty goals set by our founders, despair will set in and thankfulness will diminish. Maybe our wise founding fathers knew that erosion along the way would be caused by our old sin nature, which cannot be redeemed by man’s laws, rules and regulations. To keep hope alive, it appears that their primary reasoning for the establishment of Thanksgiving was to redirect mankind’s focus away from individual circumstances and toward the Creator of heaven and earth.
Let us remember Him, now as then, and offer a prayer of heart-felt thanksgiving.