Our “thanks” in Thanksgiving Day was traditionally directed towards God. Its roots date back to the Pilgrims, who thanked God for His protection through a bitter winter and a bountiful harvest. Thanksgiving Day was declared as an annual holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 amid a Civil War, which I find incredible!
Sadly, in our secular society, we see Thanksgiving Day relegated to generic feel-good holiday with little focus on God. For example, a reporter quoted Lincoln‘s declaration for Thanksgiving Day, leaving out any reference to God. She quotes it this way: “I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States…to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November.” But his original sentence didn’t end there! Lincoln went on to write… “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Completely left out!
Some proudly argue that we should no longer thank a God that not everyone believes in. We can keep the “thanks” but sideline God. Ken Connor makes this sad conclusion about our culture: “…while we retain many of our traditions, they are increasingly losing their meaning. Many “feel” thankful, but they have nothing to thank. Over time, as they continue to live out the logic of their position, they will eventually stare blankly into the abyss, their only feeling being one of despair” (The Christian Post).
As Christians, we have no reason to despair. There is a God to give thanks to! He is the One who deserves all our thanksgiving and praise! We acknowledge that “every good and perfect gift” comes from our Father in heaven (James 1:17).
It’s interesting that the word gratitude comes from the Latin root gratia, meaning grace or graciousness. In gratitude we experience grace. The Psalmist wrote that one of the first steps to enter God’s presence is gratitude. Read it for yourself — “Enter his gates with thanksgiving…” (Psalms 100:4). Our encounter with God begins at the door of gratitude. It’s with thanksgiving we begin to draw closer to God.
BEFORE YOU GO
I can’t help wonder what would happen if our society would turn to God and simply thank Him for all He’s done. The Psalms wrote that he glorifies God with thanksgiving, and that pleases the Lord more than any sacrifice (Psalm 69:29-31). Let’s never forget whom to give thanks to. God is the object of true thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving!