The Word “Thanksgiving”

The word Thanksgiving originated in the Bible, where it is used 32 times, and the word Thank or Thanks is there at least another 100 times.
GiveThanksWe actually expect, require, think, or say thanks in any given day over 40 times consciously or subconsciously. The word is so important to daily life, the lack of it is responsible for an estimated 60% of relationship conflicts and even divorces.
 During a person’s troubled times, finding things to be thankful for is the #1 “prescription” or advice given by counselors and good friends. It was during our country’s most troubled times in 1863 that our President gave this advice and counsel, and was so adamant that we as a nation pause and be thankful that he signed into law that we set aside a day to be thankful each year.
Sarah J. Hale wrote a letter to President Lincoln during the American Civil War suggesting that being thankful could unify our nation.  In finding things to be thankful for, in the midst of the sins and ravages of war, he said:

“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. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they 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 next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

The generosity and mercy of God are what brought the Native Americans and the Colonists together in the 1600’s for Thanksgiving. Massasoit and Sqanto, two Christian Native Americans were instrumental in coming together with the Colonists to give thanks to the Almighty Creator. The meal was just a means to get together to give thanks, not the focus. Can we remember this Thanksgiving, it’s not about the meal, or shopping, but about counting our blessings and thanking the God who mercifully and generously gives, even among and through the hardships and sin-ravaged world we live in.

As in the mid 1800’s, our country again is polarizing and turning against one other.  Maybe this Thanksgiving can again be a time to unify a nation…it can be…when we count our blessings, and give thanks.

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