Americans have every reason to be the most thankful people on earth. We live in the wealthiest nation in history. Even the standard of living of our poor is superior to what middle-income people experience in many other countries. Opportunities abound, and we are free to pursue them. That freedom is established on the sure foundation that our liberty is the gift of Almighty God.
We have endured wars, depressions, recessions and weather calamities. We are now dealing with inflation and the high cost of food, fuel and heating oil. We may face food shortages from the high price of fertilizer and there may be shortages of all kinds of goods if the threatened railway strike happens. In the midst of all this, millions of illegal immigrants invade our borders to compete for the resources we need for our own citizens.
Crime is raging in our streets, and our governmental representatives, at least on one side of the isle, tell us that the danger is not real – only a matter of perception. It is hard to know whether they believe their own lies or think the rest of us are incapable of distinguishing truth from propaganda and demagoguery. On this very day at a Walmart not far from my home and church, six people were murdered, others injured and the shooter, a manager at the store, committed suicide. The crime epidemic is not perception; it is reality.
Last, but not least, the moral depravity of abortion, homosexuality and transgenderism has taken root in our culture like a metastasizing cancer.
Yet in spite of these troubling times, we are grateful.
We celebrate thanksgiving because we have hope. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” (Hebrews 6:19)
We celebrate thanksgiving because we are not alone. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb.13:5)
We celebrate thanksgiving because we are victorious. “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We celebrate thanksgiving because we overcome. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
We celebrate thanksgiving because we are loved. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
This is the spirit which strengthened the pilgrims to endure crossing a vast ocean in a single wooden ship ravaged by storms – the famous Mayflower. This is what encouraged them through a winter of starvation, disease and death during their first months on the North American continent. Out of the hardship and pain, the following autumn brought a feast of thanksgiving with the native Americans who helped them – Squanto and the Wampanoag tribe. Half of those who started the journey were dead by then, but the living were thankful to God for all who survived. They were travel worn, weather beaten and wilderness weary, but they were free, and they were thankful. Out of that spirit of grit and gratitude, a nation unlike any other was born.
One hundred and sixty eight years later in the fall of 1789, George Washington, the father of our country would proclaim the first official American Thanksgiving, continuing a tradition which survives to this day. He declared:
“…it is the duty of 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–“
As long as we remain a nation grateful to God, we will be a nation blessed by God to move every mountain which dares stand in our way. The spirit of gratitude which has been evident from the very first days this continent was settled by our forefathers, is alive in our hearts today.
Four hundred and one years after that first thanksgiving, we are still thankful because God is on His throne forever. Despite our many sins, there is a remnant holding fast to the faith, standing in the gap to keep America a blessed nation whose God is the Lord.
As you spend time with family and friends this holiday season – as you contemplate your many personal blessings – remember also the legacy of thanksgiving we have as Americans. Our gratitude as a nation has opened doors in the past, and it will open the door to an even greater future for our posterity. May you and your loved ones have a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving!