By guest writer Robert Bates, CA.
(Robert is a dear friend who has a heart for Yeshua and our dear Father – whether in good times or hard times. With America’s “Thanksgiving Day” coming upon us soon, I am pleased to share what he sent me. Certainly we should never limit to just one day a year our expressions of profound gratitude to Abba above and to our Redeemer. Every day should be a profoundly thankful day. Now let me introduce my brother in the Messiah -- Robert. I look forward to more of his contributions. -- Philip Shields)
Is it possible to have a thankful heart, or have thanksgiving flow from our lips even as tears may 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”.
Most of us connect the American Thanksgiving Day to the pilgrims and their gratitude to God for allowing them to survive the winter and begin to be established in the new land. Of course that is true. But many may not realize that the proclamation to make Thanksgiving Day an official day to remember as a national holiday was instituted during our nation’s greatest time of strife and pain. I hope this short essay will elevate the way we look at and appreciate Thanksgiving Day.
If we rewind to this time, we’ll find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of America’s civil war, 1863, just after the battle at Gettysburg where over 51,000 brothers, cousins, and fathers died. Can you imagine the national anguish and pain right after that battle? Nearly as many Americans died in this one battle as in the entire Vietnam conflict, helping to make the American Civil War our bloodiest and highest death-toll war in U.S. history at about 625,000 American family members. Yes, many relatives fought against each other. And yes, the most painful and devastating fights are the times it happens within family. Read the rest of this blog to learn some inspiring history about how the American Thanksgiving Day came to be.
This was the setting in which America’s 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. . . . 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…and even be able to offer thanksgiving in and for our troubles. Our loving Father doesn’t go on vacation in our hard times. Quite the contrary. There are actually many Psalms and verses that teach us that it is in our most difficult times when YHVH can be very close to us – and for which we offer thanksgiving.
“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. I’ll be quoting from the Living Bible:
“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 has this strength on our own, but HOLD TIGHT to our Savior’s hand, for 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 and He held tight to mine!
President Abraham Lincoln 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, tranquility and Union.”
I offer up Thanks to our God as you gracefully stated, and to you also, Mr. President---
And so yes, even though tears may flow from our eyes during the rough seasons of our lives, we can still look up with a grateful heart on Thanksgiving Day and on every day, and say, “Thank you, Abba. Thank you, Yeshua. Thank you for, and in, everything. Amen.”
(All quotations taken from proclamation dated October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln)