The Real Meaning Of Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving should be a special time, but for many it has been reduced to eating turkey and other traditional holiday foods before watching football games. Thanksgiving can be so much more than food and football. Thanksgiving can focus us on the reality of God and all the good things He does for us.

The Benefits Of Thanksgiving

Being thankful can bring us closer to God. Most of the time, most of us are far from God. We rarely think about Him. When we make the effort to give Him thanks, we get closer to Him ‑ and that’s a very good thing.

Giving thanks changes us from complainers to people of gratitude. Most of us complain far too much ‑ which is unproductive and unattractive. Giving thanks transforms us from being unattractive people to being more attractive people.

All good things come from God ‑ our life, our talents, our opportunities, our family and friends, and our material and spiritual blessings. It’s right to give thanks to the One who gave us all these things.

We Can Learn How To Give Thanks From Others

Psalm 95: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord! Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation! Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song! For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the Earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”

Some Great Thanksgiving Proclamations

George Washington wrote in 1795: “It is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience. Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation … to preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity, and from hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits, to dispose us to merit the continuance of His favors by not abusing them, by our gratitude for them…”

Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1863 during the Civil War: “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord. We know that, by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self‑sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God 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 as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

Here’s a thanksgiving prayer you might want to pray when you gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving: “Dear God, we acknowledge You and that all good things come from You. Help us to be more appreciative of You and more thankful for the many blessings You have given us.”