It is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. This is the day of the year that we, as a nation, set aside to give thanks. The first official Thanksgiving Day was made by a proclamation from our first president George Washington on October 3, in 1789. This proclamation said in part, that the day was set aside “to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, while still in the depths of the American Civil War, made the following proclamation:
"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God." (October 3, 1863)
On this Thanksgiving Day in 2012, we wake up to see that a ground war in the Middle East has been averted, at least for the moment. In our own nation however, the so called “Fiscal Cliff,” which has the potential of plunging our economy back into recession, has not yet been averted. In both of these instances, we can see that any solution that we can come up with to deal with problems in our lives, are temporary at best. We have yet to figure out how to have a real and lasting peace in our world. We have yet learned to run our economies in a way that brings real stability to our lives.
Last night Vivian and I attended the Thanksgiving service at our church. During that service, many people present took the opportunity to tell of the things for which they were particularly thankful this year. My Aunt Myrtle, who I don’t think will mind me saying is getting a little older, stood up and reminded me of something for which I am also eternally thankful – the Word of God.
I, myself am also a little older, and I have lived a life where I have repeatedly seen the failure of we, as a people of the world, to be able to figure out real and lasting solutions to the problems that come our way. As a result of what I have seen, I have lost any confidence in the notion that we are even able to come up with any real solutions. Instead, we have only come up with ways in which we can create even more instability and more chaos. True knowledge evades us.
Any true and lasting knowledge is not something that we are able to figure out by our own intellectual and social resources and capabilities. True knowledge is something that can only be achieved when one is looking at life from the perspective, not only of many generations, but from the perspective of eternity.
We do not have that ability. We try to preserve peace for even for just our lifetime, and we fail. We try to fix our economy so that the burden is not shifted onto the next generation, and I am afraid that we will also fail in that. Solutions to problems that we come up with are patches on old worn out tires that will only allow us to struggle down the road for a few more miles.
It is only God who possesses the perspective of eternity. True knowledge can only come to us by revelation, that is, by the Word of the Lord, the Holy Scriptures.
When presidents Washington and Lincoln spoke of giving thanks to “Almighty God,” there was no doubt in the minds of the peoples of their days that these presidents were talking about the Almighty God of the Bible. Today, people in public life hardly dare to speak like that in fear that they may lose some votes. I am not even sure to whom a lot of people are giving thanks on this day. By the activities of a great many people, it seems that they are giving thanks to the big chain stores, which have extended their bargains and sales so that people can begin the frantic buying today, on Thanksgiving Day.Today, I instead give thanks to Almighty God, and I give thanks to Him for His word which He has spoken to us, so that we might know real and eternal truths.