Thanksgiving is an American holiday that bears deep spiritual significance.
The first Thanksgiving feast took place at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. After a long struggle, the pilgrims celebrated a bountiful harvest. Edward Winslow recorded that it was by the goodness of God that the harvest is so plentiful.
This feast was a religious festival as people gave thanks to the Lord. It is well understood that the pilgrims came to America for religious freedom. However, their fully stated intentions are often left out. According to the Mayflower Compact, their voyage was for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith. This faith helped to shape our nation and this meaningful tradition we call Thanksgiving.
This same attitude of gratefulness continued throughout our history. George Washington issued the first proclamation in 1789 as a national day of thanks. It was to “Acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, and to be grateful for his benefits…” It is interesting how many pseudo scholars will tell us that our fathers wanted an absence of religion in public and government.
They will also tell us Christianity had nothing to do with the founding of our nation. Our founders own words would indicate otherwise. President Washington gave glory to God for winning the Revolutionary War, achieving our independence, and for establishing our constitutional government. He also said that the country should unite in giving him thanks for it all. These facts are all recorded in his proclamation.
The tradition continued through the administration of Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, he signed a proclamation to make Thanksgiving an annual Holiday for the country. His words also give us insight into the values and ideas of the nation. President Lincoln gives God the credit for the progress of the civil war, his provision, and freedom. He also records that we are prone to forget the source of our blessings and invited the nation as one heart to give thanks to the Lord. He did not know just how prophetic those words would be.
It seems that many have forgotten our history and the source of our blessings. Thankfully, these proclamations can help us remember. Don’t allow this wonderful tradition to be missing from your dinner table this Thanksgiving. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Psalms 103:2).”