“Happy Thanksgetting from Verizon.”
Can you think of a more American sentiment than that? I heard that on the radio earlier today—the day before Thanksgiving. I was struck this week by how we are bombarded each holiday season with the idea that we shouldn’t forget to buy more stuff for OURSELVES. Yes, we should buy others gifts for Christmas, but we mustn’t neglect to pamper ourselves either! We deserve it.
So we are told.
Did you grow up buying gifts for yourself at Christmas? I sure did not. Christmas was about receiving gifts from others and giving gifts to others. The thought never crossed my mind that I should make sure that I satisfy some of my own cravings in the process. It would have been quite odd to have my parents or siblings show us what they bought for themselves. But that practice is becoming more and more the norm in our materialistic society. Our wants become our needs and we take advantage of every opportunity to accumulate them.
We are the fool that builds the bigger barn rather than to choose to bless others out of our abundance.
Tomorrow we are encouraged to be thankful to God. This day was set aside each year that we might pause and thank God for His many, many gifts. Although Thanksgiving was practiced in the States prior to 1863, that was the year President Abraham Lincoln issued the official proclamation. As a nation, we were in the middle of a Civil War to which there was no end in sight. Our nation was weary. Our soil was bloody. Yet, Lincoln proclaimed:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
Don’t you love the President’s understanding of the fallen nature of mankind – “we are prone to forget the source from which they come.” Indeed we are. Thus, Abraham Lincoln encouraged us to set apart a day for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” His hope was that all Americans would observe a day of giving thanks and praising God for His grace and mercy.
Thanksgiving is to be much more than family, food and football.
Thanksgiving should be a worship service, a day of glorying in God more than the gifts God gives.
Did you also notice that Thanksgiving was to be both God-centered and others-focused? Lincoln asked the nation to pray for those suffering the effects of the war (widows, orphans, mourners, sufferers). What a great reminder for those of us being lured to consider that Black Friday’s deals trump Thanksgiving’s intent. Give thanks. Praise. Pray for the suffering.
What’s your plan tomorrow?
God gives us gifts to enjoy. Family, friends, food, football and movies are blessings from the hand of an Almighty God and beneficent Father.* Let’s not forget the Source from which they come this year. Be sure you and those at your table verbalize your gratitude. Spend some time in praise as well. Worship God for Who He is, what He has done, is doing and will do for His great glory and your great good. Finally, take a moment to pray for those in our country and around the world who are experiencing very different circumstances from your own. You will most likely have a feast spread before you. But many will suffer the pains of starvation. You will have the opportunity to do whatever you desire to do. But many are imprisoned unjustly, some for the faith you have the freedom to practice. Many of you will enjoy being in the presence of those who love you on this holiday. But many will find themselves deeply saddened due to a variety of reasons, including the loss of a parent or spouse or the realization that another year of unplanned singleness is coming to a close. Commend them to “His tender care.” Ask the Lord to draw them to His side.
Happy Thanksgiving (not “Thanksgetting”)!
For the full text of Lincoln’s proclamation, see:
*Please note that the Scripture is clear that while God is indeed the Creator of all mankind, He is not the Father of everyone. We experience the reality of God as our Father through adoption. Have you been adopted?