by Dr. Jim Wolfe
Last year I was asked to write an article for the Ouachita Citizen, so I thought would post it to our blog this year as we approach the Thanksgiving season.
A NATIONAL DAY OF THANKSGIVING: For most people, including Christians, Thursday is just another holiday from work, to enjoy family and friends, for feasts, fun activities and entertainment. But this is not the original purpose for setting this Day of Thanksgiving.
In 1789, President George Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to be observed by the people of America. This is a portion of his proclamation:
WHEREAS, 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;
WHEREAS, Both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of
public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with
grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government
for their safety and happiness”;
NOW, THEREFORE, I do recommend next Thursday, to be devoted by
the people of the states to the service of that great and glorious being,
who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,
that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country.
This was the first Thanksgiving Day. It became a tradition with every following president, and in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November as the official day set aside for a National Day for giving thanks unto Almighty God.
Our Presidents have been wise in setting this day aside because the truth is, as Paul stated in Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” America was established by the hand of God and we should be humbled, grateful for His benefits, because, as our First President pointed out “(He) is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, and that will be.” James 1:16-17 expresses this truth this way: “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, …”
I know that there is a lot of negative issues facing America, but wouldn’t it be nice if all Americans would take a moment this Thursday to reflect upon the positive, thanking our Heavenly Father for His mercy, grace and love?
So, as I reflect upon my life, let me share my grateful heart to that “great and glorious being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, and that will be.”
The Good That Was: History documents and our national monuments (especially all around our nation’s capital) testify of the Hand of God blessing the establishment and protection of America. The Lord raised up men and women who were dedicated to the cause of Freedom and dependent upon God’s protection. Although it might be said that we have not won all wars, I can positively say that we have lost none. I am thankful to our God who has protected our land from the evil tyranny of many other nations. I am thankful to men and women who have sacrificed so much that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms we have. I am thankful for the patriotic hearts, throughout the years, that were proud to wave “Old Glory” reminding us of the unity, love, and devotion to this God blessed land.
I was raised with four brothers and a sister, in a military home. I am thankful for my Dad whose legacy instilled patriotism, honesty and integrity, and a work ethic that has allowed me to enjoy the freedoms of America. I am thankful to God for the heritage of America and of a godly home.
The Good That Is: The newspapers and media are filled with the evils of men and the negative issues plaguing our society today – good news does not sell papers! But amid all the senseless killings, destructive weather, and political unrest, it would do us well to note the good. America, even with all her faults, is still the best place to live in this world. I have visited some third-world countries and have been overwhelmed with the poverty and hardships – and yet I find many of those people singing and making melody in their hearts. We are so blessed (even our poorest of poor are far richer than many in other lands). Can we not find reasons to sing and make melody? Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 5:19-21, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
I am thankful for a nation of people whose hearts are turned toward compassion, sacrifice, and comradery when disaster strikes. The resilience and support of many in our land far outweighs those who seek to rob us of God’s blessings. Yes, I find there are many who sing and make melody in their hearts, even in evil times!
I am thankful to God, who has blessed me with 5 sons and their families, all of whom share my Dad’s legacy of patriotism, honesty and integrity, and a work ethic that has made them productive citizens of this richly blessed land.
The Good That Will Be: America has been through some hard times – a civil war, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, The Great Depression, 9/11, etc. – and no doubt we are facing one of the most destructive spirit and division our land has ever experienced. But with every destructive attack from without upon America, God has delivered us and is able to deliver us even from the attacks from within. I know it would take a miracle to bring America back to that pride and patriotic unity that made America great, but I serve the God of miracles. I thank Him for the hope that floods the hearts of many in our land.
Maybe this Thanksgiving Day, as our hearts are lifted heavenward, God will bless us with His peace and unity. If there was a word that could be shared with all of Americans concerning giving thanks, that could stir our hearts to peace and unity, I believe it would be the words of Paul in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
I am thankful to the God of Miracles!
God Is Good: As we gather with our families, friends and loved ones this Thursday, let us lift our voices with grateful hearts to that “great and glorious being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, and that will be.” Let me challenge all of us to take a moment to open our Bibles (a freedom we have in America) and read Psalm 100, and thank God for His goodness and blessing upon this land. The psalmist writes, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”