Has life gotten you down? Well, let me tell you: my joy, security, contentment, and whatever else we can put on the list, is not affected by whatever happens in life. Our country may be in a mess, but my security and joy are based on what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me. I'm thankful that Jesus gave His life for me, and I'll be eternally thankful that, in turn, I've given my live to Him.
Today, you might be wondering, "What's there to be thankful for?"
Let's start with being thankful that our nation's forefathers granted us a national holiday for the purpose of offering thanks and gratitude to Almighty God for His loving kindness and provision. What a blessing to have leaders – governors, representatives, senators, judges, and presidents – who openly proclaimed their belief in God. Will current or future leaders deprive us of this special day? Only God knows. But even if that were to happen, it could never deprive a true believer in Jesus Christ and Almighty God of the privilege of praying and giving thanks.
Our faith is not political; it is our life! And that's why our nation had become the envy of the world, and why so many people risk their lives to come here.
Celebrating a day to worship God – a day granted and endorsed by our national government – presents an ideal time for parents to teach their children about the blessings God has bestowed on us. It is also an ideal time for our leaders to stop and think about why and how our nation became the great country that we are ... or had been.
What do I mean by that? I'll come back to that in a minute.
Here's a portion of the first Thanksgiving Proclamation given in 1777 by the Continental Congress.
[It's the] "Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence... (to) express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor...."
The following is part of President George Washington's message on October 3, 1789.
[I appeal to] "all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions...To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue...."
When we remember our national heritage, and remember it is our belief in, and faith in Almighty God that made us a great nation, it can be frightening to see how far some of our leaders have led us away from that faith. It can be worrisome to see how our entertainment industry has corrupted the minds of many in our nation.
On top of that, some of you have had a tough year. Some of your family members may have died. You or your friends may have lost their jobs. Your health may have taken a turn for the worse. Your finances may be in turmoil. You may find it difficult to rejoice and be thankful.
In that case, read about the first thanksgiving the pilgrims had in Plymouth, Mass. Over half of them died the first year, but those who survived were grateful and worshiped God. Because of their faith and devotion to God, the seeds of truth, faith, and courage were planted, and the harvest was the United States of America. We became a nation that 1) spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world, and 2) fought for and preserved freedom for not only ourselves, but for Europe and much of the world.
But being a thankful person isn't natural. It is natural to sin and to complain. What engenders gratefulness is knowing the One Who offers us eternal life. We must do as Washington suggested: ask God to pardon our national sin and personal transgressions. Then promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.
Enjoy life by worshiping God and thanking Him for His blessings.
-- S. Eugene Linzey is author of Charter of the Christian Faith. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his web site at www.genelinzey.com.