While it happens every year during the third week of November, it was not much of a holiday until the second year of the American Civil War. The President at that time, Abraham Lincoln, wanted to find something that would be symbolic to represent not only persevering though trials, but would also act as a touch point that would serve to remind the entire culture of the cause in which to rally around. This was perhaps the darkest days in U.S. history, but in that darkness a great revival was moving in both the northern and southern camps. The heavy price of blood and treasury forced both sides to take stock in what was real, what had substance, and they clung to their faith, and while the differences were still there after the war, faith was the catalyst that healed and held the nation together. The conscience of mortal man was being stoked by a loving God who had given men their freedom.
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. Abraham Lincoln
Few today have any idea of where this current tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving came from or the price that was realized and payed in order for them to enjoy it. Most think of the Puritans landing on Plymouth Rock and think they simply were thankful for what they had. But here too we have a story of adversity, being blown off course some 450 miles north, not being prepared to survive the harsh winter, ill equipped and ravaged by sickness and malnutrition they lost half of their numbers. It’s the unexpected friendship of Squanto, an English speaking native American who had been kidnapped, taken to England and managed to return who befriends, teaches, shares, and most importantly loves the Puritans that spring of 1631. Investing in people who represented the culture that forced him to labor against his will. He thought of the good vs. the evil that fell upon him and in turn decided to return that same good vs. evil. He and the Pilgrims believed that God in His providence guided Squanto to this place and time.
This is the point that gave Abraham Lincoln the inspiration to pen and declare the “Day of Thanksgiving” He like they felt that God had guided him to this place.
So while we may enjoy a turkey and some pumpkin or pecan pie, the spirited rivalry of a football game, or the bedrock idea of a time of friends and family. It’s really all about being thankful for what God has done and is doing, even in the darkest of hours. Celebrating the former things in light of the latter. Looking to Him and his provision as our source of hope. May God bless you and your family as we enter into this holiday season, lets embrace what God has done, giving thanks in the face of what appears to be a time of great national and global trial and tribulation. May we find the courage, hope, and love to overcome the darkness with great thanksgiving that can only be found in Jesus. Like Squanto see where you can invest good and overcome evil.
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