I often joke in the life of the church, once we pass Halloween and the “Fall Fest” Season, it’s a straight shot to Christmas. Everything picks up, our schedules fill up, and before you know it, it’s Christmas Eve, and we are singing Silent Night with candles in hand. And while I can’t wait for that to get here, I also don’t want to get in such a hurry that I miss this season right now, that is so important. Thanksgiving.
I spoke to Seasoned Saints this past Tuesday, and I shared with them three times in the history of our nation when Thanksgiving was really “cemented” in our national consciousness. The first is what we normally associate with Thanksgiving, with those initial services of “Thanks Giving” to God. There were the shared meals with the Native Americans, a time to stop and thank God. Why? Because they survived. They had food from the harvest. They may yet survive the winter. Life in the colonies was difficult. They were truly thankful to survive.
Second is when Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving proclamation during the Civil War in 1863. This is considered the first “modern” Thanksgiving, as for the first time a day of thanks was officially called for in all the states on the same day. The third was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941, making the fourth Thursday in November the official date of Thanksgiving.
Each of these events, look at what is happening. For the pilgrims, life was hard. Really hard. They couldn’t go down to Kroger or Piggly Wiggly to get a turkey for dinner. They were literally thankful to survive. For Lincoln, and then again FDR, there was war. Suffering. Emerging from the Great Depression. War at home. War abroad.
In all this, there is the call. Be thankful. Not because life is always good. But because God is always good. We thank God not because life is perfect, easy, or even always good. We thank God because He is perfect. He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.
Today, most likely, your life is not perfect. There are hardships. They are challenges. There are worries. There are concerns. But, hear me, friend. God is good. Today, and always. As Paul writes to the Philippians, even as he was in chains in prison:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 4-7.
Rejoice today. Be thankful. Give thanks with your life. With all that you are. For God is good. And His mercy endures forever.