Thanksgiving and Praise

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, November 22, 2014 2 comments

by Michael Homula

Contrary to our elementary school lessons that establish a meeting between pilgrims and native Americans as the first Thanksgiving, the truth is actually a far more poignant story.

As those who had been followed along in the Biblical Truth at Gettysburg series or who have joined me and the team in Gettysburg for one of our retreats know, I am a very serious student of the American Civil War and I have been studying the war since I was 15 years old. Naturally I have an affinity for many of the leaders of that period, but Abraham Lincoln’s courage, leadership and faith have always stood out to me.

The truth about the first official day of national Thanksgiving and Praise in the United States is directly attributable to Lincoln. Please note that the addition of the word Praise was not mine; it was a critical component to the first national day of Thanksgiving in this country and the preeminent reason I felt compelled to draft this post. There is a very interesting spiritual and faith based fact about Lincoln and his Thanksgiving and Praise Proclamation that I wanted to share as we approach the 151st Thanksgiving Day.

The timing of the proclamation came at a critical point in our nation's history, which was embroiled in a horrific Civil War that appeared to those living in America at the time to have no end in sight. Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor of the time, wrote a letter to Lincoln in 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She wrote,

“You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Spiritually speaking, Lincoln's original 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation came at a pivotal point in his life. During the first week of July of that year, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, resulting in nearly 10,000 dead and 53,000 wounded or missing. Four months later in November, Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. It was while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves at Gettysburg that he committed his life to Christ. As he explained to a friend:

“When I left Springfield [to assume the Presidency] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.”

This Thanksgiving, as we meet with family and friends, let us be ever mindful of the mercy and love that God has shown us. Let us not forget the Praise element of the original National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise and lift our hearts, our voices, and our lives to our Creator and Savior from whom all good things come.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

Michael Homula said...

Thank you for reading and for your comment Anonymous.