Thanksgiving is a time when many Americans pause to give thanks. It is based on the actions of the Pilgrims soon after their arrival in the New World. Lots of discussions, articles and books have been written on what occurred and didn’t occur in the fall of 1621.
What we do know is that both Presidents Washington and Lincoln encouraged all Americans to set aside a day of thanks for different reasons. President Washington’s first declaration was dated October 3, 1789 and President Lincoln’s was dated October 3, 1863. Finally, on December 26, 1941, congress passed a law making the observation of the day to give thanks - that is Thanksgiving - on the fourth Thursday of the month of November.
As disciples of Jesus, we know that giving thanks to God should be an everyday occurrence. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says - Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
And as believers and disciples who live in a world impacted by sin, we also know how difficult and hard these verses can be. How do the families of the three Girl Scouts and chaperone killed by a DUI driver in Wisconsin give thanks? How do the family and friends of the 12 people killed in the California bar shooting give thanks? How can those who lost family or possessions because of the wildfires in California give thanks? How can people recently diagnosed with a terminal illness give thanks? Or the person who has lost their job? And the list goes on and on.
In the hard times of life, we still give thanks. Not for the problem. Not for the bad things that happened, but because we trust in the promises of God that He will continue to be there for us. We give thanks because of His promise given in Romans 8:28 which says - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
It is not up to us to figure out how God will do this, or when He will do this. We trust that it will happen when it’s going to have the most impact in our lives and/or the lives of others. That is what we trust and what we celebrate at Thanksgiving.
Remember: Our God loves us. Our God does not desert us. Our God provides for us so we can focus on working for Him. It is not up to us to be concerned why God blesses people differently. It IS up to us to thank Him for those blessings AND to use those blessings generously so others can experience the joy of salvation.