Scroll through social media in November and you’ll find an abundance of thankfulness posts. So appropriate, you might think, since we’re gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving Day here in America.
But I wonder.
Most of these posts express gratitude for personal blessings. Mine have too. Here’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving photos. Since 2007, I’ve been especially grateful for my grandboys!
However, the American Thanksgiving holiday began as a day of thanks throughout our nation for national blessings. (Officially, anyway. The Pilgrims and native Americans had kicked things off a number of years earlier.)
Here’s President Washington’s 1789 proclamation, with a few lines highlighted in bold because they seem especially important in these times of division, disagreement, and disrespect.
Thanksgiving ProclamationIssued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress,on October 3, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Thanking God for His goodness to us personally is always appropriate. Hearing our children thank Him is always wonderful.
But this year, this Thanksgiving, could we all thank God for his blessings on America, and pray that we, our nation, and our leaders will turn to Him and live each day aware of the responsibilities and actions our national blessings require?