Thanksgiving – God’s Will and Once Upon a Time America’s Way
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Giving thanks in everything or in all circumstances as the verse can also be translated, is the will of God for every believer and follower in Christ Jesus. As those who love God and called according to His purposes, we can confidently and without question be assured that all things will work together for our good (see Rom 8:28) and be thankful in every circumstance. However in addition to the giving of thanks being God’s will, it was once upon a time America’s way.
In an article written by Dr. Ronnie Floyd and featured by Fox News online, we are reminded that Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until 1863 during what was certainly America’s darkest days as a nation. At a time when America and American’s were deeply divided and in the midst of a bloody and costly civil war, Thanksgiving was officially and formally recognized as the day we remember today.
In keeping with the meaning and original intent, Thanksgiving dates back to President George Washington's proclamation signed on October 3rd, 1789. (You can read the entire proclamation from various sources online.)
In addition to publically and in unity acknowledging and giving thanks to God for His keeping and blessings upon our land, Washington’s proclamation called the nation to repentance by seeking God’s forgiveness for our national transgressions and sins. As pointed out, this followed an earlier call issued in 1777 by the Continental Congress encouraging all American’s to offer prayers of thanksgiving and repentance from our nation’s ‘manifold sins’. “Rooted in the Puritan conviction that gratitude should lead to humble repentance, Thanksgiving was intended to be more than a day for expressing gratitude for our many blessings. It was intended to be a day when America would turn back to God and seek national healing and forgiveness”.
Floyd is right, and as we gather this Thursday with loved ones to give thanks to God for everything, as instructed in I Thessalonians, let’s also take time to confess and repent from, first our individual transgressions and then our national sins as God would define them in the Scriptures.
Until the time comes when we do this again as a nation openly and corporately, probably out of desperation, let’s practice this in our homes around the turkey and dressing.
If we as His people do this in sincerity and truth seeking Him and His kingdom above all else, God will hear our prayers, forgive our sin and even heal our land that has purposely and methodically been torn apart.
As we arrive at Thanksgiving 2018, America is dangerously close, in any number of ways, to repeating what began in the winter of 1860 and exploded across the land the next year. If there are any doubts as to this being true we read where, knowing their thoughts, Jesus “said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matt 12:25).
What was once upon a time America’s way can again become the way in this yours and my day. America can be saved! America can be healed! American can be forgiven of gross and great sin and can experience another great spiritual awakening! This is not wishful thinking but God’s promise and many believe His plan, if the church does what is most required.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).
Happy Thanksgiving! Pastor’s David and Shirley White