“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
“Instead of complaining that God has hidden Himself, you will give Him thanks for having revealed so much of Himself.1”
It is an interesting thing that two individuals should go through the same experience of life and while the one would bend his knees into the sod of the earth and lift his eyes heavenward in humble thanks to God, the other should puff out his chest in defiance to the same God and curse Him for the goodness that he has enjoyed. Such contrasts show to us that thankfulness is not an intrinsic attribute of the human heart, or simply; not all men give thanks to God.
This is even more astonishing when we reflect on trademark events that gave substance and distinction to our country, the United States of America. Here is not a single heart, but a community of hearts, even a nation that from its earliest breaking forth took time to turn their hearts heavenward in gratitude for the providence of God in granting the very fundamentals of life, food and shelter from the elements of weather. Though there are those who would assert that our nation had a much different and less religious beginning than traditional American history grants us.
Still, there are echoes from the archives of national documents that dispute those who would refute it. It was Gov. Bradford of Massachusetts made this first Thanksgiving Proclamation three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth: “Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.2 Or as our first President, George Washington stated: “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; … Now, therefore, I do recommend next, to be devoted by the people of the 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 country3”
Thankfulness to God was part of the warp and woof of this countries earliest beginnings and through the struggles of war and the shaping of a nation unlike any before in the history of Gentile empires. It has been the heirloom of her heritage that has been guarded and recognized over and again throughout her history until in 1941 Congress passed into law the fourth Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. It is an indelible mark on a country that speaks firmly and honorably to the hearts of those first peoples to set foot on Plymouth Rock and a noble general who knelt in the snow at Valley Forge and many others across her history who offered up their lives against world tyrants and a crazed Austrian to assure that we as a free people could give thanks to God for the boundless blessings He has bestowed upon her.
Blaize Pascal’s quote cited above reminds us that life itself is to be lived under an umbrella of perpetual gratitude to God for the treasure trove of revelation of His goodness showered upon man. In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson: “The person who has stopped being thankful has fallen asleep in life.4” The Apostle Paul said: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”(IICor. 9:15) Who is it that cannot be thankful to God?
The Rev. Ray Druckenmiller is the Pastor at Manning Community Church.