In 1863, Abraham Lincoln appointed Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. He designated it to be the final Thursday in November. That year the North and the South were in the throes of the Civil War. However, Lincoln saw that despite the war, there was still prosperity in crops, growth in the population and of the borders of the United States, and we were only at war within our borders and had no other conflict to deal with outside of our own borders. He asked the nation to offer thanksgiving to God. He asked God to hold in his care the orphans, widows, and maimed soldiers of the War. Lincoln also wanted prayer for our nation that the wounds would heal, and the two sides unite as one.
As I read the Thanksgiving proclamation of Lincoln, I was amazed he would even think about giving thanks during one of the darkest periods of American history. Our nation was divided over state’s rights, slavery and economic differences. Brother was fighting brother, and the loss of life was at an all-time high. People were war weary. Giving thanks requires us to see the good and right in our lives and concentrate on hope for good in the future.
Today we don’t have a civil war, but there is so much that is negative surrounding us. Often a little good news is buried by the larger amount of bad or fake news. Like Lincoln’s proclamation of Thanksgiving, we need to narrow our focus to our own personal lives and on our blessings.
Take time this Thanksgiving to give thanks to God and concentrate on the blessings in your life. Become aware of the things you take for granted that make your life easier or make you happy. Thank Him for the blessing of friends and family. Take time to give to others who may not be as fortunate as you are now. Most of all, be thankful we live in a country where we can pray, worship God and have this day of Thanksgiving.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits.