Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It is a day of gratitude!
Want some history on Thanksgiving? Go here.
Abraham Lincoln, 153 years ago, established the national holiday of Thanksgiving. His statement is powerful, as it addresses the difficulties of the time while recognizing the need to give thanks. You can read that here.
I would like to pull a few excerpts from his proclamation in order to provide some perspective about the power of gratitude in our lives.
1. GRATITUDE GIVES US FOCUS
“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity”
There is never a bad time to give thanks. Many people in our country are stressed, worried, or fearful about our countries future. Might we agree that being in the middle of a civil war (1861-1865) would be much worse than where we are at now? If gratitude was necessary in the middle of war, then it is equally as necessary now.
Right after making that comment, Lincoln goes on to describe the good things that were happening in the country…population growth, the growth of wealth and strength in extracting needed mineral resources for the country. If he had only focused on war, he would have missed the positive things.
Things are never all bad or even all good. Life is usually filled with a combination of both.
Might it be better for our hearts and souls to focus on that which is good?
2. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO JESUS
“They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God”
When we choose to live a life of gratitude, it always leads us to the One who has given us those things which we are thankful for. Blessed families, economic security, food at the table, great friends, and many other things that we experience don’t happen by accident. They happen because God has made them available to us.
When we exercise gratitude, we realize that there is a purpose behind all the good that we experience. Gratitude leads us to Jesus.
3. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO ASK FOR GOD’S INTERVENTION
“…commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidable 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, tranquillity and Union.”
If we truly believe that God is the one who is responsible for our blessings, then it is also to God that we direct our requests for intervention in the difficulties we face.
Gratitude was the foundation of requesting God’s intervention in the chaos that existed.
Understand this, thanking God for the good things does not mean ignoring the difficult things that we face…whether personally or as a country. On the contrary…thanking God for that which is good sets us up to pray with faith and hope, believing that our God will intervene to bring even more of his blessings in the areas of difficulty that exist.
4. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO GENEROSITY OF HEART AND ACTION
I don’t have a quote from Abraham Lincoln on this one, but it is something I believe to be true. When we live a life of gratitude, we become others-centered rather than me-centered. In fact, gratitude is the antidote to selfishness and entitlement.
Gratitude sends us on a trajectory of living a healthy life as we focus on that which is positive and as we focus on how we can give, rather than receive.
Gratitude gives us focus.
Gratitude shows us Jesus.
Gratitude allows us to plead our cause to God.
And gratitude leads us to a lifestyle of generosity.
That is the power of gratitude.
How will you be grateful on this Thanksgiving?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!