In America we traditionally think of Thanksgiving in the context of the Pilgrims leaving England on the Mayflower for the New World in 1620 to pursue their God-given freedom to worship. Over half died the first winter in Massachusetts yet those who remained still acknowledged thanks to their Creator for his provision and blessing.
The time of the Revolutionary War in the 1770’s was also a time of Thanksgiving for the victory of the American colonists over the most powerful military force in the world – the British. America may have looked very different today if it were not for the sacrifice of many brave men and women who loved freedom. Giving thanks was the best and most natural response.
A national day of Thanksgiving was established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 during arguably the most difficult period of time this country has every seen in the Civil War. Since this time, individuals and families have taken one day out of the year to collectively and individually give thanks to God for his bountiful blessing. Surely this intentional act of giving thanks, as a nation, has had something to do with the greatness of America.
What are three ways that we can express our thanks to God?
First, thank him for the people in your life. In Philippians 1:3 Paul says, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” God has placed the people around you for a reason. Giving thanks to him for each one will inspire you to love them and benefit you at the same time.
Second, thank God for His provision. “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:4) If you have a roof over your head and you know where your next meal is coming from you are one of the wealthiest in the world. Most of us focus so much on what we lack, we cannot see how richly God has provided for us.
Third, thank God for his power over the difficulties of life. More than likely you, or someone you love, have been touched in some way by hardships this year. Giving thanks, more than anything, reduces the impact of the problem and gives the perspective needed to move through the situation with faith and strength. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)