On October 3, 1789, President George Washington said this in proclaiming the first Thanksgiving day designated by the national Government of the United States: “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, and whereas 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, now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the people of this country.”
Historical background is a hobby for many of us. It informs us of some interesting realities about the mindset of our nation’s founders. It can also be alarming to see where we are currently in a culture that cannot imagine such a proclamation from one of our Presidents or from Congress.
But as Christians, we should not need such a proclamation from anyone in government. We really should not need a holiday to remind us to be thankful. But, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the day off and knowing that this is to be a special day for fellowship with people we love and thanking God together.
This Thanksgiving (and every day really), while it is a good thing to thank God for all of the “things” He has blessed us with, spend some time thanking Him most of all for the promise of His real abiding presence with us. People everywhere have God all around them in that they cannot go anywhere where they can hide from Him. But only Christians have the real presence of God living within us – even when we don’t feel Him. Give thanks for His presence and reflect on it for a bit.
There are well over 100 passages in the Bible that tell us to praise and worship God and call for us specifically to say “Thank you” to God. Ephesians 5:19,20 is one such passage: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”