Is it possible to have a thankful heart, or have thanksgiving flow from our lips even as tears flow from our eyes? There’s an anonymous saying; “the deeper sorrow carves into one's soul, the greater amount of joy it can hold”. How do we find this joy? Let's look at the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday as a start….
Many may not realize that the proclamation of our national day of Thanksgiving was instituted during our nation’s greatest time of strife and pain. If we rewind to this time, we’ll find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of our U.S. civil war, 1863, just after the battle at Gettysburg where over 51,000 brothers, cousins, and fathers died. Nearly as many Americans died in this one battle as in the entire Vietnam conflict, helping to make the civil war our bloodiest and highest death war in U.S. history at about 625,000 American family members, yes many relatives fought against each other from the North vs South.
This was the setting in which our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed: “the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”. Mr. Lincoln fully understood as he also stated “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.”
Perhaps the following two scripture passages can help us understand or at least find the strength to make our way through our troubles…
Rom 5:3-5 But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope; and this hope does not let us down, because God’s love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. (CJB) Not buying in yet? Listen to how James explains from the Living Bible translation:
James 1:2-4 Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.
None of us have this strength on our own, but why would we want to bare the full struggle when we have a helper: HOLD TIGHT to our Savior'shand, He does have the strength that we lack. I can’t emphasize this enough. I personally am not still alive today because of my own strength, but because I held tight to my savior Yeshua’s hand in my most painful time, as He held tight to mine!
President Abraham closed his proclamation by asking his fellow Americans pray “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.”
I offer up Thanks to our God as you gracefully stated, and to You also Mr. President.
(all quotations taken from proclamation dated October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln)