This Thanksgiving, it is more important than ever to take time to reflect on the true meaning of this important holiday.
Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. It was instituted by President George Washington by a Proclamation on October 3, 1789, setting aside November 26th as a national day of thanksgiving. It commemorated the first Thanksgiving, where our forefathers gathered to celebrate God’s blessings on our non-yet-formed nation. Presidents have continued the tradition to this day (now the fourth Thursday in November), reflecting on the year and the bounties it brought and giving thanks to Almighty God. In our own way, every family gathered together this day participates in this solemn reflection as they celebrate their bounty, their families, and their God.
As I think about the history of this day and the state of our country, I could not help but reflect on the words of President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863. Despite the turmoil and division of his time, President Lincoln realized for how much there was still to be thankful.
Here’s an excerpt from President Lincoln’s proclamation:
“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.”
In our own time of struggle and division there is much for which I am grateful.
Like President Lincoln, I am ever thankful for the many blessings that the Lord has provided to our nation and to our families.
I am thankful for a strong and resolute nation. Radical Islamic jihadists have tried to destroy us, and they have failed. They have tried to use our beneficence to pervert the promise of a better life here by radicalizing those we have welcomed. We know our enemies will not quit and that is why our nation must remain vigilant.
I am thankful that our nation has largely been spared the persecution and violence that plagues the globe. ISIS has killed thousands on account of their Christian faith. Genocidal jihadists commit unspeakable atrocities against Christians in the Middle East. Europe has faced wave after wave of radical Islamic terror. Yet even we face the hardships of these tragedies here at home. Turkey has seized an American pastor on false charges, denying him his rights and his family time with their father. We continue to battle across the globe for American Pastor Andrew Brunson, including recently before Congress.
I am also deeply thankful for you – ACLJ members. Without your hard work, unending support, constant vigilance, and faithful prayers we would not be able to do the work we do. We could not fight for the rights of persecuted Christians and the unborn.
As I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, thanking God for his many blessings for my family and our nation – on behalf of the entire ACLJ family, I want to wish you and yours a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving.
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