Have We Lost Thanksgiving?

Proclamation 118—Thanksgiving Day, 1864

October 20, 1864

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

Is it just me, or is the holiday Thanksgiving fading from the calendar? One minute everything is orange, black-hairy-scary, and the next it’s Christmas gold and sparkle.

I want to blame the political climate or societal shift, but Thanksgiving’s demise began in our hearts long before it grew dim on our agenda.  Discontentment in life leads to disrespect of authority which basically poops any party.

Are there things wrong in our country? Of course.

Are there things right? Of course.

Is it wrong to be thankful even if things aren’t perfect? Ah…nooooo.

The apostle Paul knew quite a bit about giving thanks when life stunk. He wrote a bunch of letters with a lot of instruction about joy from some pretty difficult places to find it.

  • Hard work
  • In prison
  • Whipped innumerable times
  • Faced death again and again
  • Beaten with rods
  • Stoned  (2 Cor. 11:23-29)

Just to name a few.

And in a dank Roman cell he encouraged thanksgiving.

“…And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Col. 3:17, NKJV.

How in the world did Paul do it? The society he lived in and its political climate certainly did not foster godly living or inward sweetness. Yet, within the tears he shed, and oh yes he did, and within a depressed spirit, and oh yes he had one, Paul encouraged thanksgiving. (Don’t believe me? Check out 2 Cor. 1:8-9 and 2 Cor. 2:4).

If you feel you may be losing Thanksgiving, here are four things woven throughout Paul’s letters that may help unchain your gratitude.

  1. Free your Thanksgiving from circumstance.
  2. Embrace the humble heart of repentance.
  3. Rejoice in the truth of the Gospel.
  4. Plant your joy deep in the Person of Jesus Christ.

America was in chaos in 1864. In personal grief and national sadness, a day of Thanksgiving was declared. Lincoln’s proclamation in the midst of it pointed to the object of our thanksgiving. Because when God evaporates from the scene, dissatisfaction grows. Whenever “what” upstages “Who” Thanksgiving becomes insipid, its richness lost.

“…And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

Let’s not let this one pale.

Let’s find Thanksgiving again.

27 Replies

  1. Amee Reply

    Thank you for this important reminder!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Amee. I do truly appreciate you reading and commenting.

  2. Daneen Campbell Reply

    Sylvia, how true! I was driving through our little town yesterday and noticed that the lamp posts are already festooned with wreaths and bows. It saddened my spirit to think that we are already bypassing Thanksgiving and jumping into the Christmas time. I have always loved Thanksgiving and the family time that surrounds it. This year that may not be true because of the restrictions placed by the events of the virus, but we will enjoy the memories and thank God anyway!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Maybe if restrictions limit we will concentrate more on giving thanks. 2020 has worn me down. I need to be intentional about giving thanks!

  3. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Sylvia, reading your post will change my Thanksgiving celebration. The words of Abraham Lincoln and your wise comments stirred my heart. Thank you, my friend.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Jeannie! Certainly it is a year when thanksgiving will need to be intentional!

  4. Shawnee Penkacik Reply

    I have always loved Thanksgiving and this year it seems like everyone wants to fast forward to Christmas so they can put 2020 behind them. However when I look at 2020 I see it differently. Yes, it was filled with difficult moments but my family grew closer together, my relationship with the Lord deepened even more, my friendships grew deeper, I have a deeper appreciation for things around me. I’m looking forward to dinner with my family and celebrating God’s goodness. It’s all around us. Thanks for this great reminder.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Shawnee for that testimony. I am so glad 2020 has been a year of blessings smack dab in the middle of its difficulties. What an encouragement and assurance that the Lord does indeed hear and care.

  5. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Such a sad but true fact Ms. Sylvia. I’ve been feeling THANKSGIVING slipping away from us for years now, but I too feel it more this year than the others. Have we become an ungrateful nation? Have we chose to forget, or worse “erase”, all that our nation has sacrificed for the world? It’s a sad holiday indeed this year ma’am. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in lamenting what seems to be passing from us.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you J.D. Cause for petition along with the thanks. We do have so very much to be grateful for. As always I so appreciate your taking the time to read and respond.

  6. Sue Kroeker Reply

    I’m so glad for this reminder, Sylvia! I love how you get to the ❤️ of the matter!

  7. Kristi Reply

    What a timely reminder. Yes, we must remember to be thankful no matter what our circumstances. We have a Savior that is faithful and good!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      You are so right Kristi. He is really enough for any Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for reading and responding!

  8. Katherine Pasour Reply

    I agree, Sylvia, that Thanksgiving has slipped away and is often lost in the commercialization of Christmas. It seems we skip from Halloween directly to Christmas. This year when we are so fearful about many things, our spirit of gratitude has lessened, I think. But, as you remind us, that’s when we most need to be grateful for the blessings bestowed on us by our heavenly Father. He gifted us with our Lord Jesus, the greatest gift of love. We can help bring Thanksgiving back.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Katherine I am reminded this year that Jesus is more than enough for Thanksgiving. I need to keep this foremost in my mind because so very easily I slip into ungratefulness. Appreciate your comment!

  9. Marilyn Nutter Reply

    Thank you Sylvia for giving us a road sign pointing in the right direction. Blessings to you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Blessings to you as well Marilyn, and Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  10. Marilyn Krehbiel Reply

    Oh My Dear Friend, Wow did I ever need this reminder!!! Thanks for pointing me to our LORD JESUS CHRIST who is WORTHY!!!!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I’m so glad to hear from you Marilyn, and grateful the post was encouraging. Truly, this year I need the reminder myself. Happy Thanksgiving, Friend!

  11. Ashley Stevens Reply

    “And in a dank Roman cell he encouraged thanksgiving” ❤️❤️

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Ashley! Thanksgiving doesn’t always look as nice as we want it to, does it! Even in a Roman cell!

  12. Heidi Reply

    Yes Thanksgiving is so easily forgotten in our word! Glad you’re bringing attention to it. It’s so healthy to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Heidi. It’s something I need to cultivate daily. I don’t even recognize in myself how much I complain rather than thank. Appreciate you reading and commenting.

  13. Rosi Pahl Reply

    And that was President Lincoln’s final November- 6months later his life was taken. So grateful he declared the celebration!
    I still carry a quote from Don’s teaching in 2005. He said, “For the follower of Jesus, thanksgiving flows naturally from hope; and hope in turn, finds its restoration in thanksgiving.” Thank YOU Sylvia! I love your writing.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks so much Rosi! I didn’t remember he was killed so soon after that. “Hope finds its restoration in thanksgiving.” That is absolutely priceless. I am going to savor that thought today. Thanks for sharing it and to Don for preaching it!!