The Meaning of Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you are able to have a day of rest and celebration with your friends and family. We are spending today with my mom’s family and tomorrow with my dad’s family (although I have to work until 3pm tomorrow πŸ™ ) But today is a day for rest and reflection, and thanking God for all the ways he has blessed us this year.

This morning, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw that someone had posted part of Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation from 1863, when Thanksgiving was first established as the last Thursday in November. I looked it up and read the whole thing, and I was struck by the fact that he wrote it during the Civil War. If there was ever a time when it would be hard to be thankful, that would be the time. But still, even during the darkest period in our country’s history, we were blessed with a President who pointed us back to God and reminded us why it’s so important to be thankful.

He listed the blessings from the growth of freedom we had experienced since the beginning of our nation, and then reminded the people that “…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. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”

We may not be in the middle of a civil war today, but there is plenty of strife and struggle and suffering in the world, in our country, and maybe even in your own life. Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation reminds us that there is more to Thanksgiving than eating turkey, watching football, and spending time with our family. Those are all good things, and we should enjoy them whenΒ we can. But Thanksgiving is also a day to thank God for His blessings, ask for His forgiveness, and ask for His help when life gets hard. It’s an opportunity to humble ourselves, ask Him to heal us, ask Him to bring us closer to Him, and to thank Him for fulfilling His purposes for us, even when we can’t see the purpose yet. I don’t know about you, but that’s a reminder I needed today.

What are you doing to celebrate Thanksgiving?

Leave a Reply