As the American Civil War raged in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln took time to respond to a series of newspaper editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale by proclaiming a national day of Thanksgiving on Nov. 26 of that year, and each fourth Thursday in the month of November. The proclamation reads as follows:
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
“Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to prayer for clemency and forgiveness.”
More than 200 years earlier, another leader, William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony, penned his own proclamation of thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest received when he wrote:
“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
“Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
God has many noteworthy attributes that we read in His Word, from sovereignty to omnipotence to love to holiness to omniscience to truth to goodness to perfection and so many more. However, a quality that we read in Scripture that we can be thankful for during this coming holiday week, and every day, is that of provider.
Scripture tells us that ”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,” (James 1:17 NIV). In the book of Genesis, God made clear His quality of provision when, upon asking Abraham to sacrifice his own son Isaac, ”Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.’” (Genesis 22:13-14)
Both President Lincoln and Gov. Bradford were acutely aware of their source of provision in being quick to recognize the role God played in their respective lands and people.
During this week that we pause for Thanksgiving, and truly each day, you and I would do well to do the same thing, having hearts filled with gratitude to God, giving Him the utmost thanks for his many provisions to our families and to our land.