Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Thanks

     From our earliest days in school we have all heard the stories of how the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in order to give thanks to God for His provision. While rarely mentioned in public schools today, colonial observances of Thanksgiving were clearly focused on God as their Creator and Sustainer. In his journal, William Branford, an early Governor of Plymouth Colony, wrote

          “And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange
          of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest,
          to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient,
          they also set apart a day of thanksgiving…”

     It was not, however, until 1863 that Thanksgiving became an annual observance when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

     While we celebrate Thanksgiving today as part of the broader holiday season, over the last century
we have changed the emphasis from giving thanks to being thankful. Many Americans might argue that the two phrases are synonymous, however the difference is significant and it can be seen in the verb of each phrase. To give is to make a present of, to grant or bestow to another. Being is the quality or state of having existence. While it stands to reason that in order to give thanks one must be thankful, one can be thankful without giving thanks.

     It has become commonplace in the days that lead up to the fourth Thursday in November to take time to name all of the things for which we are thankful. In some circles it’s known as “The Thankful Game.” Most often family, friends, health, and favorable life situations top the list of the things that inspires feelings of thankfulness. Unfortunately it quite often stops there. We are content in our thankfulness and are satisfied in feeling grateful.

     It seems that today our focus is more on what we are thankful for rather than to whom we should be thankful. We appreciate the gift far more than the giver. This Thanksgiving let’s take a moment and give thanks to the One from whom all blessings flow. Let’s give thanks to the Creator and Sustainer of all. Without Him there truly would be nothing for which to be thankful, in fact without Him there would be nothing at all.

I will praise the LORD with all my heart
in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
The LORD’s works are great,
studied by all who delight in them.
All that He does is splendid and majestic;
His righteousness endures forever.
He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered.
The LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He has provided food for those who fear Him;
He remembers His covenant forever.
He has shown His people the power of His works
by giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of His hands are truth and justice;
all His instructions are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
enacted in truth and in what is right.
He has sent redemption to His people.
He has ordained His covenant forever.
His name is holy and awe-inspiring.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow His instructions have good insight.
His praise endures forever. Psalm 111


In His Service,