Vol. 7, No. 8
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George Washington ordained that on Thanksgiving Day, among other things, we should "unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions" (NY, Oct. 3, 1789). However, Thanksgiving has often been a time that tests our national and personal fortitude. These times can make it difficult to, as he recommended "acknowledg[e] with grateful hearts the many and single favors of Almighty God."
It was during the Thanksgiving season internal strife led to Abraham Lincoln's battlefield address in Gettysburg, PA (November 19, 1863). Just two years prior to his untimely death, Lincoln said, "we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom." How trying it must have been, during this bitter season of bloodshed, to find hope and express thanks.
It was nearing the Thanksgiving season September 11, 2001, external strife led to George W. Bush's "Ground Zero" address in New York, NY. Our President could have recited the precise words of Lincoln that day: "It is for us, the living to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain..." etc. How trying it was, during this bitter season of bloodshed, to find hope and express thanks.
This year, the turbulent state of things in the Middle East has not ceased to escalate. Many families here in the U.S. face the season with difficulties, uncertainties and loss. If there were nothing else to be thankful for, it would be the fact that God desires to be there for those who grieve, hurt, sorrow and suffer (Psalm 46:1; 84:11). If we obey the Gospel (John 8:24; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10; Hebrews 5:8-9), we are given this assurance, "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (1 Peter 3:12).
May we remember this season, and all seasons, to humbly offer "our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations...and acknowledge with grateful hearts the many and single favors of Almighty God!" Meditate on these Scriptures of hope, comfort and joy several times this Thanksgiving season: Psalms 18:2; 46:10; 73:26; Proverbs 12:28; Philippians 4:6-9; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 John 3:1; Revelation 12:11.