Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? For many of us, it is a day of feasting, family, and football. Followed by Black Friday, more football, and Christmas decorating. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and Canada, celebrating the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Americans generally believe their Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people.
President George Washington started Thanksgiving and was the first to announce the holiday in 1789, designating Thursday, November 26, “for the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving.” This marked the first national celebration of the holiday.
The real intent of Thanksgiving emphasizes relationships. Thanksgiving begins with admitting God as faithful and sincerely giving Him thanks for His ample blessings. To be thankful for something means we have to be grateful to someone for providing what we are thankful for. That someone is God almighty, who provides all of our needs. Thanksgiving is part of the relationship between God and man.
Biblically speaking, Thanksgiving means devotion, sacrifice, praise, or an offering. Thanksgiving is to glorify God as an act of worship, giving thanks for all things as part of God’s foresight and faithfulness. We have much to be thankful for. The Psalmist tells us, “to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1 NIV).
God’s love knows no boundaries and is eternal, for which we should be eternally grateful. “But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV). Sometimes, we can’t see the good in God’s actions, but we must trust Him. God was so devoted to us that He sacrificed His only Son for us to have eternal life with Him. In good and bad times, we are to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
During trying times, Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV). God has made provision for the times when we can’t see God’s goodness. We should pray, give thanks, and trust Him for the outcome in those times.
One of my family traditions is at dinner time, we all take a turn and tell each other what we are thankful for this past year. It is a small action, but it causes each of us to reflect on the past year and think about all that we are thankful for and it causes each family member to rejoice with goodness in each other’s lives.
What are you thankful for this year?