Today, many Americans, sadly, have lost this foundation upon which true, heartfelt thanks can be offered on Thanksgiving.

Once again, we pause to reflect and give thanks on this, yet another, Thanksgiving Day – a uniquely American holiday.

If we are to properly “give thanks” on this day, there must be a recipient of our gratitude, an entity to whom we show appreciation for our blessings.

As our earliest founders proclaimed, that deserving recipient is God, the Almighty who has shown grace and mercy to our land and our fellow man.

That truth was on full display when John Hanson, President of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation following the American Revolution, issued the first proclamation declaring the fourth Thursday of November a Day of Thanksgiving in 1782.

Hanson’s proclamation declared:

proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1782-2

 

“It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the giver of all good, for His gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner, to give Him praise for His goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of His Providence in their behalf; therefore, the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of Divine goodness to these States in the course of the important conflict, in which they have been so long engaged, the present happy and promising state of public affairs, and the events of the war in the course of the year now drawing to a close; particularly the harmony of the public Councils which is so necessary to the success of the public cause, the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them, the success of the arms of the United States and those of their allies, and the acknowledgment of their Independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States; Do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe and request the several states to interpose their authority, in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next as a day of SOLEMN THANKSGIVING to GOD for all His mercies; and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.”

George Washington would later declare the observance of Thanksgiving as the first President of the United States of America in 1789.

What we see in Hanson’s words is the realization that you cannot be truly thankful for something you feel entitled to or have no sense that one day it could be gone.

Genuine thankfulness is a result of endured loss, overcome hardships, and a real understanding that the blessings of today, in a fallen world, are ultimately not of your own making, but rather the merciful hand of the Almighty at work in your life whether we live in full knowledge of His work or not.

America’s founders keenly understood these truths.  They lived and breathed them.  They fought and died for them.

Today, many Americans, sadly, have lost this foundation upon which true, heartfelt thanks can be offered to the Almighty because being thankful looks beyond oneself, an action that runs counter to the narrative preached in our contemporary culture by many leaders in academia and politics.

Yet, to authentically experience thankfulness in our hearts we must recognize that someone outside of ourselves played a role in our moving out of the muck and mire enabling us to count our blessings, placing our hope and faith in an entity, a being above all else who is working in every step, every moment of our lives even when the days are the darkest.

It is in that realization that we see the Author of our faith write on our soul, allowing us to be truly thankful to God, our Sustainer and Deliverer in this present life.

Yes, there is always something to complain about.  Similarly, there is always something to be thankful for.  It’s your choice.

May your choice today be one that gives thanks to God as our founders did 240 years ago, and may your day be spent living in those blessings He provides as you spend time with family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mississippi!