Our country has observed Thanksgiving Day since the time of the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony in 1621, but President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first official national Thanksgiving Day in 1863, selecting Thursday, November 26 as the day, and every year since then, the United States has had a Thanksgiving Day. In every case, the proclaimed Day of Thanksgiving was intended to be a time of giving thanks to God for His goodness to our country and people.
It is right to give thanks to God, both nationally and individually, because God is good and has made us great. The problem is that our government and our people have lost the attitude of gratitude. Too often, instead of being thankful for God’s goodness, which we don’t deserve, we act like we are entitled and that God is obligated to give us His good. We need to be reminded that without God, our nation will not be great, and without God our people will not flourish. We owe a debt of gratitude to God, and like many forms of debt, this one is best paid in installments, frequently and regularly. There is no way that giving thanks on one day alone can adequately convey a sincere attitude of gratitude for that which we have received over an entire year.
The Bible contains abundant examples and exhortations of thankfulness. In the Old Testament the Psalms are filled with thanksgiving. In the New Testament Jesus Himself gave thanks, and the Apostle Paul gives numerous exhortations to be thankful. In the Book of Colossians alone, he mentions giving thanks six times in only four chapters. As Paul encouraged Christians in their daily walk with God, he wrote, “Whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17), then a few verses later he said, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). It is apparent that the Bible here is not referring to one day of thanksgiving, but to maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving throughout each day and through every situation and circumstance. God is good; be thankful!