Counting thanks as we celebrate Thanksgiving

Published 5:45 am Sunday, November 13, 2022

Thanksgiving Day is quickly approaching.
The day we take a break from our busy schedules, gather with family and friends, and count our many blessings. America was founded on the freedom of religion—the freedom to worship God any way we choose without the fear of being persecuted for it.
Over 300 years ago, our founding fathers shook off the chains of tyranny from Great Britain and sailed to a land of promise and freedom.
In 1623, three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth, this proclamation was made by Governor Bradford: “To all ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and…has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house… on Thursday, November ye 29th, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
Then, in 1789, President George Washington made the first national Thanksgiving proclamation: “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection, aid and favors.
Therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of the United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, and is, or that will be; that we may all then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country, and for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”
It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
As you can see, Thanksgiving Day wasn’t established as a holiday just to stay home from work, eat turkey and watch football… but as a day for the entire nation to turn its attention back to God and express our gratitude to Him for all the blessings we enjoy.
Our country has faced many problems over the past year: from high inflation and gas prices to school shootings, violence, and riots in our streets.
It has been a stressful year no doubt, but we still can find reasons to give thanks to God.

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.

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