In the fall of 1621, the early settlers celebrated their bountiful harvest with their native neighbors. They thanked God for his rain provisions after a long drought that enabled a sustainable harvest. In 1789, George Washington made a Thanksgiving proclamation to Congress to honor God’s blessings on this country and its people.
Thanksgiving Holiday Declared
President Abraham Lincoln declared it a Federal Holiday during the Civil War in 1863, setting the day aside for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” President Lincoln was in the immediate aftermath of Gettysburg, where over 7 thousand men died, 33,000 were wounded, and 10,000 were missing, and yet he proclaimed a national Thanksgiving holiday.
He said at that time, ”No human counsel has devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
Amid this kind of trial, Lincoln asked our country to thank God for His blessings and pray for our nation’s collective forgiveness and repentance.
It is comforting today to reflect on our country’s history and note, from the settlers and founders, through the establishment of our government, that a recognition of God’s providence for his people was evident. May it be clear to us, and may we each give Him Thanksgiving today for His mercy and grace and the promise that His love is with us forever in Jesus Christ.
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