Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is the purest of holidays.
As I get older, I tend to side with the old Protestants who aren’t excited about Christmas and Easter. Don’t we praise God for the incarnation and resurrection of the Christ on a daily basis or at least every Lord’s Day? Why do we need the mall to celebrate the virgin birth?
But, I digress.
In my view, Thanksgiving is the most religious of American holidays because it points all of us to God. If the universe is the product of a random occurrence in the black emptiness, gratitude is an irrational response to any of life’s blessings. If there is no design, we should feel lucky, but not grateful. Do you thank the slot machine for its benevolence?
Whether you recognize the sovereignty of God or not, you will feel a sense of gratitude when you survey all of the good things in your life: the smile of your child, your job that sustains, your loving wife, and your home with a multitude of comforts. All we can say is wow, thank you!
If you think that my view is strange or unduly religious, I recommend that you read President Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. You’ll see that I’m just being faithful to the character and essence of the holiday. I quote a portion of Lincoln’s Proclamation below.
The year that is drawing toward 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 can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
. . .
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.
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. 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, tranquillity, and union.
Abraham Lincoln: “Proclamation 106—Thanksgiving Day, 1863,” October 3, 1863. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=69900.
Let’s reflect on the year and thank God for his blessings. We are a blessed people in a blessed country. Though many trials have and will come, the good things in life certainly do and will outweigh them. Give thanks!