Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving anyway?
I’m sure you’re all aware of the Pilgrims…at least I would hope so. The Pilgrims, in search of religious freedom and opportunity, came from England on the Mayflower in the fall of 1620. Their first winter in Massachusetts was brutal—killing 44 of the 102 people. They befriended the Wampanoag Indians who taught them many skills to survive on the land. The Pilgrims’ harvest of the autumn of 1621 was so plentiful that Governor William Bradford organized an enormous feast in celebration. Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote of that time, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty" (italics mine). It is thought that Thanksgiving was celebrated every year after that, although not formally or nationally.
Sara Josepha Hale started lobbying in 1846. She wrote letters to five presidents, starting with Zachary Taylor and ending with Abraham Lincoln, in an attempt to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. It wasn’t until her letter reached Abraham Lincoln, 17 years after she began her lobbying, that she was successful. Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday in 1863, smack dab in the middle of the American Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln, even in the midst of war, found reason to be thankful to God. Why, in this world today, in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, is it so hard for people to open their mouths and hearts to thank the God that made them, that sustains them, and that loves them enough to send His only begotten Son to die for them?! All good and perfect things come from God. You have nothing that didn’t come from God, for you can do nothing on your own. It’s time to thank Him for them.
I heard a story awhile back. It was about a woman, her face and body ravaged by leprosy, standing in a church service in another country. The missionary was worshiping God through song and was taking requests. This lady, in all her grief and anguish, requested a song. That song was “Count Your Blessings.”
The Pilgrims counted their blessings long ago. The leper counted hers. Can you count yours today? I know the number would be great. I’ve realized that if I’m feeling down or upset, I just have to praise God, because that will quickly bring me up! And if you don’t know God, I suggest you go to Him right now in faith and trust in His Son, Jesus.
It is Thanksgiving Day, not Turkey Day as this secularized world often calls it. It is a time to give thanks to God, not eat a turkey. So, Happy Thanksgiving! May this day and all that follow be blessed to the max, as I know mine will be. Give thanks to God!