"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
I love that every year, our entire nation gathers together to express thanksgivng and gratitude. Like many of you, I have many blessings, and I am thankful for each of these.
I am thankful for my husband who supports my crazy, and who loves me so well and so unconditionally.
I'm thankful for my son who provides so much joy in my life.
I'm thankful for my grandparents who have provided a legacy of faith and love, and who are likely celebrating their last Thanksgiving.
I am thankful for my parents who continue help me grow and change.
I am thankful for each of my siblings, their significant others, and the arrival of a new baby nephew.
I am thankful for good friends who willingly fill my life with laughter and love.
I am thankful for my many material blessings including a job, a house, a car, and plenty of good food to eat.
Above all, I am thankful to God that he would extend mercy and love to someone like me who is so ill-deserving of it. With so much mercy extended to me, I can understand why God commands to give thanks in all circumstances, even the bad ones.
Or maybe this year hasn't felt so great
If this year has been a hard year, a year filled with tragedy and hardship, a year in which you've lost loved ones, burned bridges, or undergone financial distress, or faced hardship of any kind, then this year, you may struggle to give thanks. Thanksgiving might not flow from your heart as you see nothing but struggle going forward.
Let me be the first to say, that your struggle is real and legitimate. Your struggles matter, and nobody should dismiss them. Let me also encourage you that there is hope both in this life and hope eternal. I hope that you can find that hope, so that your heart can be filled with Thanksgiving too.
Thanksgiving isn't a holiday that is only about our blessings. It's about seeing hope and giving thanks in the midst of dire circumstances.
Below is the First Thanksgiving Proclamation, as issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. With the nation embroiled in war and conflict, and Lincoln's personal popularity at an all time low, he declared that the nation should take a day to give thanks to God. These are his words:
A Thanksgiving Proclamation
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
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, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.