A Short Reflection on Thanksgiving
As we celebrate the annual event of Thanksgiving which falls on every 4th Thursday of November, let us take a moment or two to reflect on the significance of celebrating this day.
Thanksgiving as the name suggests, it is a day we put aside to remember the blessings that we have and we give thanks for them.
The history behind Thanksgiving
It became an official Federal holiday in 1863 when the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a nation day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Also there are reports that the original Thanksgiving proclamation was signed by George Washington. As a federal and public holiday in the US, Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays of the year. Together with Christmas and New Year, Thanksgiving is a part of the broader holiday season.
The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. This feast lasted three days, and it was attended by 90 Native Americans (as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow) and 53 Pilgrims. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings” – days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought. (Info taken from Wikipedia)
The Question –
Maybe we now ask, why do we specially set aside a day to give thanks? My suggestion is because we humans are forgetful beings and selfish in nature. We tend to take things for granted and we are not gracious people. We expect things to be done for us as and when we want it done. We grumble and complain too much and express very little amount of gratitude. Speaking as a Singaporean, I must confess that our typical Singapore culture is that we are known to complain about every nifty gritty thing. We complain about the Air-condition not working, we complain about traffic jams, crowded buses and trains, we complain about not having enough buses, even late buses… Let’s face it, we complain about almost anything and everything. How often do we remember to say, thank you to the cleaner who helps clear our tables after and before our meals to ensure we have pleasant environment to eat in? When was the last time, we appreciated and thanked the road sweeper for helping us to keep our country clean and green? Not every often though, if we will are honest with ourselves.
We are like the Israelites in the Bible, they are a bunch of ungrateful people who are constantly complaining and grumbling. During the 40 years of wandering in the desert, how many times have they grumbled and complained against Moses and the Lord? They grumbled about having no water to drink because it was bitter (Ex 15:23-24). They grumbled about having no food in the second month their departure from Egypt (Ex 16:2-7). Again at Chapter 17, the people of God complained again about water in verses 1 – 7. Within a span of 2 short months, they already complained 3 times and again they complained and grumbled against Moses for taking so long to come down from Sinai (while he was receiving the 10 commandments from the Lord). When Moses came back from Sinai the Israelite had built them a golden calf. They had soon forgotten about all the miracles they have seen and the goodness of their God, they have experienced during the time of deliverance in Egypt right through the crossing of the red sea). It seems like God was at their beck and call and He was their servant instead of the other way around. Aren’t we (humans in general) like the Israelites as well?
While it is good we should set aside a specific day for thanksgivin, let us not forget to give thanks on a regular basis. It is said that a grateful person is a happy person, because we are appreciative of the things and are done on our behalf.
We as God’s children have many things to give thanks for – Food on our table, a roof over our head, a job so that we can earn a living, a school we can go to, family and friends who care and our church family. We praise and thank God for every blessing of His daily provision, for the ability to live, for the air that we breathe, the food we eat and the water that we drink.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him, shall not die but have everlasting life” (John 3:16.) If we can’t think of anything to thank God for, at least that reason alone is enough to compile us to say “Thank You Lord”. While we still have breath and are alive, there is another day, another chance to make tomorrow better.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
It is a privilege to be able to be alive. Let us take time to appreciate the things and people around us. Learn to be gracious, learn to say thank you, and in every circumstance learn to thank God!
Prayer- “Oh Lord, teach us to be grateful and be appreciative of the things we have and towards the people around us and not to take things for granted. Grant us a heart of thanksgiving and gratitude, humble us and let us be generous in our words of affirmation. Teach us even in our busy moments, to take time just to enjoy and be grateful for the simple things in life such as a cup of tea with a good friend, a stroll in the park enjoying the breeze the beauty of nature which You have given us but most of all the gift of life itself. Thank you for loving us and blessing us with so many things!”
Serving with you in His Kingdom with love;
Princess Michelle –
Beloved Daughter of the Most High King