This article was updated November 27, 2019.
On Thanksgiving Day, multiple millions of Americans will rush to church services to thank God for the many incredible blessings He has bestowed on our nation historically and over the past year. … Not!
Let me begin again.
On Thanksgiving Day, multiple millions of Americans will celebrate the holiday by attending parades, watching football games on television, and overeating traditional turkey dinners. Many will head out late Thursday evening to begin their Christmas shopping. The Friday after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is one of the heaviest Christmas shopping days of the year—and it now begins on Thanksgiving Day. Merchants rely on crowds of greedy shoppers to put them in the black financially.
This is radically different from the way Thanksgiving was intended to be kept. Do you know the origin of this uniquely American festival?
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of our most important presidents, saw a great need for Americans to hold a day of thanksgiving. Both men wrote proclamations recommending that all Americans observe a day of public thanksgiving. However, it is Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation that established the Thanksgiving Day we celebrate today.
Just after the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, which turned the tide of the war in favor of the Union Army, President Lincoln wrote: “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plow, the shuttle or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield ….
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. 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.”
As President Lincoln taught us, although God punishes us for our sins, He will be merciful if we turn back and acknowledge how great and good He is! This Thanksgiving Day couldn’t come at a better time for America.
Thankful in Tough Times
There is no question Americans are going through tough times. Consider the many national troubles that continue to plague us: civil strife, the division in our government, our staggering national debt, extreme weather disasters causing flooding and drought, mass shootings and violence, and raging fires that destroy human life and property. These continuous problems show God is angry with us. Why? Because of our national sins, which are many.
Abraham Lincoln knew that as a nation, God had given our land the best of everything—good weather, healthy food and precious materials from the ground—that yielded to us a large and powerful population and incredible wealth providing numerous material possessions. America has been the envy of the world. Yet what have we done with our God-given gifts? We have corrupted ourselves!
Violence and murder rule our streets. Americans are the world’s biggest consumers of illegal drugs. Our entertainment industry displays our ugliest corruption: In magazines, films, computer games and on the Internet we spew out a constant stream of violence, sensational licentiousness and illicit sex for consumption by every nation of the world. Even the recent election showed the deep division within our nation.
But our greatest national sin of all is that our great wealth has caused us to forget God. As a nation, we are embarrassed by God. A large segment of our nation does not even want to mention the word God.
We must take the warning from President Lincoln’s proclamation. We did not grow America into a great nation by our own intelligence or our own efforts. God gave it to us, and He is now in the process of taking it away from us. Although Bible prophecy shows that the nation will not turn around as it did in 1863 under the direction of President Lincoln, you as an individual can.
How grateful are you for what God has provided you this year? Despite all the tough times we are experiencing, America is still one of the best places to be on Earth—let’s thank God for the blessings He still allows us to have. Be sure to thank God on November 28, Thanksgiving Day this year, for all that He has done for you.