Unfortunately, many Americans today have lost that basis on which to give genuine, heartfelt thanks on Thanksgiving.
Once again we pause to reflect and give thanks on another Thanksgiving day – a uniquely American holiday.
If we are to truly “thank” that day, there must be a recipient of our gratitude, an entity to whom we show appreciation for our blessings.
As our earliest founders proclaimed, that worthy recipient is God Almighty, who has shown grace and mercy to our country and to our fellow human beings.
This truth was seen in full measure when John Hanson, President of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation after the American Revolution, issued the first proclamation declaring the fourth Thursday of November 1782 as the feast of Thanksgiving.
Hanson’s proclamation stated:
“It is the inalienable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the Giver of all good, for His gracious help in a time of distress, but also to praise Him solemnly and publicly for His goodness in general and especially for those grand and significant interventions of His providence on their behalf; Therefore, the United States assembled in Congress, considering the many examples of divine goodness towards these States during the important conflict in which they were so long engaged, the present happy and promising state of public affairs, and the events of war during the now to end of the current year; especially the harmony of the public councils, so necessary to the success of the public cause, the perfect unity and good understanding which has hitherto existed between them and their allies, notwithstanding the artful and indefatigable attempts of the common enemy to divide them, and their success of the arms of the United States and those of her allies, and the recognition of their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting benefit to those States; Hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general to observe and request the various States to intervene in their authority by appointing and directing the observance of THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, as a day of SOlemn THANK YOU to GOD for him all his Compassion; and they further commend all ranks to show their gratitude to God for his goodness, by cheerfully obeying his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is great Foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.”
George Washington later became the first President of the United States to declare Thanksgiving observance in 1789.
What we see in Hanson’s words is the realization that you can’t truly be thankful for something you feel entitled to, or have no idea that one day it might go away.
True gratitude is the result of losses endured, hardships endured, and a genuine understanding that today’s blessings in a fallen world are ultimately not created by yourself, but rather the merciful hand of the Almighty working in your life, whether we are in full live in knowledge of His work or not.
America’s founders understood these truths well. They lived and breathed it. They fought and died for her.
Unfortunately, many Americans today have lost that basis on which to offer genuine, heartfelt thanks to the Almighty, for gratitude looks beyond oneself, an act that runs counter to the narrative embodied by many leaders in science and society in our contemporary culture politics is preached.
But to experience authentic gratitude in our hearts, we need to recognize that someone outside of us played a part in moving us out of the mud and swamp that enabled us to count our blessings, our hope, and placing our trust in an entity, a being above all else, working in every step, in every moment of our lives, even when the days are at their darkest.
In this realization we see how the author of our faith is written in our soul and allows us to be truly thankful to God, our Sustainer and Deliverer in this present life.
Yes, there is always something to complain about. Likewise, there is always something to be thankful for. It’s your choice.
May your decision today be one that gives thanks to God, as our founders did 240 years ago, and may you spend your day living in the blessings it offers as you spend time with family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving, Mississippi!