President George Washington’s famous Thanksgiving proclamation made Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted 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.”
The Gospel ties joy and right living to ongoing gratitude, to God above all, and to all the persons whom God has dispatched to spread His Kingdom and love around the earth. Thanksgiving is the supreme season for gratitude for God’s blessings.
There is a common spirit in America today of despair and ingratitude. For all of our problems, there is much for which Americans of all faiths can be extremely grateful.
Christians especially should model a spirit of gratitude, from which flows hope and confidence. The declinists and pessimists who think the best days are behind are understandably concerned. But God who is the Lord of all constantly offers redemption and hope for the future. Every age offers opportunities amid troubles.
The Pilgrims, who were refugees escaping religious persecution, celebrated Thanksgiving after losing half their small number to disease and whose seemingly bleak future included many struggles ahead as a tiny settlement on the brink of an unreceptive wilderness. Yet they gave thanks with hope, based on their faith in God, a faith vindicated as their labors created a great civilization that has blessed hundreds of millions. So too can we in our time bless future generations with our own sense of gratitude and providential hope for the future. Happy Thanksgiving!