"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." — Psalm 100:4
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” — Psalm 100:4
During the winter of 1610, the settlers of Jamestown were reduced from 409 to 60. The survivors prayed for help without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God.
The Pilgrims set sail for America on Sept. 6, 1620, and were at sea nearly two months. When they arrived at Plymouth Rock, they had a prayer service and thanked God for being with them during their journey. Nearly half of them died as they struggled to build shelters and survive the cold New England winter. When spring came, Indian friends assisted them in reaping a great harvest. Because the Pilgrims were thankful, they declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God.
Thanksgiving was originally established as a Christian holiday by President George Washington in 1789. Because Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated consistently, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November 1863 for a day of gratitude.
He declared: “We are prone to forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come… . 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.” Presidents continued to annually declare a national Thanksgiving Day until 1941 when Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday. Of course, Thanksgiving is also about gathering with friends and family and having a feast.
Some will watch football and parades while others enjoy time off from work and school. But sometimes at this particular time of year, we can forget about how thankful we ought to be. We need to never forget that God has blessed us. After all, God sent His son Jesus to be our Savior! (1 Corinthians 15:57) The Bible urges us to give thanks to the Lord. We are told in Psalm 106:1, “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
Thanksgiving should be about God, not our circumstances. It’s easy to give thanks in good times, but what about the bad? Instead of giving thanks for our circumstances, maybe we should give thanks to God for being with us in the middle of our circumstances.
Sometimes worship and thanksgiving can be a sacrifice, because we are down or depressed or things aren’t going all that well for us. Maybe hardship or tragedy has hit your life in some way and giving thanks may seem tough. The Bible doesn’t say, “Give thanks to the Lord, because you feel good.” It says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”
What are you thankful for? Do you have an attitude of gratitude? A better question is to whom are you giving thanks? In the busyness of your Thanksgiving holiday, don’t forget the source of your blessings. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
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Stephen Harrison is associate pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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