Rejoice always. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
As far as I can tell from world history, it's not normal for humans to be content or give thanks.
Mrs. Sarah Hale knew it wasn't normal to give thanks. Sarah Hale. Is the name familiar? It should be. She is the lady who wrote, "Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went ...," well, you know the rest of the story. Sarah Hale, author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," was also the lady who, in 1828, began a campaign to restore Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
I use the word restore because America had had Thanksgiving celebrations before. Three years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Governor Bradford of Massachusetts announced, "I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye pilgrims gather at ye meeting house on ye hill between the hours of 9 and 12, to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
The pilgrims had survived diseases, harvested crops, shot game, and they gave thanks. But it's not normal to give thanks, and soon, Thanksgiving faded away.
After the Revolution, as our country was getting started and settled, Washington proclaimed, "All (should) unite in rendering unto Him (God) our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country." Great idea, but in a few years Jefferson cancelled the practice.
Then came Mrs. Hale.
She felt our country should be thankful for what the Lord had given. She went to one official after another with her idea. She was told she was "too naïve," "impractical," "impossible." Then she met President Lincoln who set aside the fourth Thursday of November to be "National Thanksgiving Day."
But Congress didn't approve it. It took until 1941, when our country was involved in another war, for Congress to set aside a day of Thanksgiving.
You see, it's not normal to be content or thankful. Humans forget. That's partly because most folks think they don't have much for which to be thankful. Taxes are tough; traffic is treacherous; terrorists are threatening; tomorrow seems troublesome. The washing machine is making strange sounds, and the car is internally hemorrhaging.
Then, in November, Thanksgiving Day arrives.
You know the drive to grandma's will make the children tired and crabby; the church service will probably run too long; the pastor's message will be about Thanksgiving, just like it was last year. At dinner, your cranberries melt into your mashed potatoes, and the idea of giblet dressing makes you queasy. You're tired of telling the children, "It's Thanksgiving Day, not turkey day" but, in your honest moments, you agree. That's often the way it is. For the world, there is no contentment, no thanksgiving.
This is why, now, after our nation has celebrated Thanksgiving, I encourage God's people to continue with a thankful spirit. We, who have heard the angels tell of God's Good News of great joy, ought to be rejoicing. We who have seen the fires of hell and know we don't have to go there should continuously praise God who sent His Son to give His life so we might have eternal life.
Indeed, for us, contentment and thanksgiving ought to be our regular fare.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I always be thankful for the sacrifice the Savior made for me. If others forget, may I remember Your grace, love and commitment, which has saved me. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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