Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart: Celebrating American Thanksgiving

AMERICA — This November 28th, families will gather together across the entire United States to celebrate Thanksgiving. After consuming a feast of turkey and dressing and an array of dishes fit for a king, fathers and sons will cheer on their favorite NFL teams while grandfathers, intending to watch, fall asleep in an overstuffed recliner.

Unfortunately, that’s what American Thanksgiving has become for many. The day once set aside to give thanks for very specific reasons, has become a family reunion during which we take a few minutes to thank the Lord for the food and His many blessings.

The staff of Gospel for Asia urges all Americans, especially Christian Americans, to rethink and repurpose how to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

In the Beginning

The story of the first American Thanksgiving is too familiar to bear repeating. However, it might be worthy of mention that the second American Thanksgiving included a time of fasting and prayer before the feast day.

In 1782, the United States Congress asked the individual states to command their citizens to observe a “solemn Thanksgiving to God for all His mercies [and] to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness.”

In 1789, President George Washington urged Americans to celebrate a Thanksgiving Day by “rendering unto [God] our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection . . . and manifold mercies.”

President Lincoln formally recognized American Thanksgiving as a national holiday, saying,

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most-High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Returning to Thanksgiving

There is little doubt that we have become prodigal in the commemoration of American Thanksgiving. President Lincoln’s words may offer a clue as to why that has happened. We have forgotten our sinfulness, the Lord’s holiness, and His infinite mercy and grace.

I’m urging all Americans, especially Christian Americans, to rethink and repurpose Thanksgiving this year. The reason we take only a few minutes to thank Him “for this bounty set before us” is because, in some sense, we believe that we deserve all that He has given us. The reality is that we deserve none of it.

Consider setting aside at least a portion of this Thanksgiving to contemplate our Lord’s holiness. Then spend some time understanding the offensives of our sinfulness. When we begin to realize that we deserve nothing, we will also start to be truly thankful for anything.

II Chronicles 7:14 provides another reason we need to rethink American Thanksgiving this year. Will you join us by making this Thanksgiving a holy day and not just another holiday?

“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.”


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