Give Thanks in All Things
Although news of hate, violence, and tragedy is coming from around the world, we should not shy away from gratefulness; we should actually move toward it. One of the best examples of this comes from 1863, when the news of the day was also filled with hate and violence. The Civil War was tearing the nation in half—yet that didn’t stop America’s leader, President Abraham Lincoln, from recognizing the need to be grateful for all God had given them. He made a proclamation that led to the eventual establishment of our national Thanksgiving holiday.
Take a look at one of the statements made in the middle of that proclamation.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Thankfulness is supposed to be a part of our lives, no matter the circumstance. President Lincoln understood that. He noted the “unequaled magnitude” of the civil war they were in, but did not keep his focus there. He moved his audience’s attention to what they could be thankful for.
The Bible is filled with direction to be thankful—and President Lincoln understood what we see in the Word: a heart of gratitude starts with a matter of your focus.
What are you giving your attention to? When you proactively take steps to focus on the good things in your life and give God glory for what He’s done, your attention will naturally swing away from worldly concerns. On the other hand, since your flesh is created to negotiate this world, if left unchecked, it will maintain a negative focus, and ultimately cause you to become an unthankful person.
I guarantee you don’t want to mess with negativity. Be smart enough to use this week focused on gratitude as a launching pad for cultivating a thankful heart in your life.
Let me end with the final portion of President Lincoln’s proclamation of thanksgiving.
…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.