Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Thanksgiving: A Story of Perseverance
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Here's a part of the Thanksgiving story you may not have heard about.
While the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in October 1621, it was not until 1777 that all 13 colonies celebrated Thanksgiving, for the first time.
At one point, our first President, George Washington, proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving, but conflict, difficulties and misunderstandings among the colonies ended the collective observance.
Here's how the day came to be recognized as the day we now observe. And how it finally became a law in 1941.
President George Washington recognized the importance of giving thanks to God---as individuals and as a nation.
He made a Proclamation of Thanksgiving and signed it, "Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."
In part, the Proclamation said, "Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor---whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
There is more. You may read the remainder of his comments and the comments of other presidents regarding Thanksgiving at our Faith and Freedom Library.
While there was a general observance and celebration of the day, it did not become a legally recognized federal holiday until much later.
Here is the story.
Magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale was aware of the failed history in attempting to create a nationally recognized holiday focused on giving thanks to God for His many blessings.
Hale felt strongly that Thanksgiving should be a nationally recognized day---if fact she believed God had put it in her heart as a mission---to do what she could do in this regard.
She began writing letters to governors and presidents, and editorials in magazines, books and newspapers, promoting the observance of Thanksgiving.
In 1863, after 40 years of letter writing and campaigning , Hales persistence paid off and President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving.
He too was a man of great perseverance and conviction.
Even then, it took another 78 years (1941) before Congress made it into a law.
Since then, every president has supported Thanksgiving---some more than others, but all have.
But note--it took 40 years of persistence, perseverance and passion to make Thanksgiving a National Holiday---another 78 for it to actually become a law.
And 152 years from when President Washington first proclaimed it as a "duty to...the providence of Almighty God..."
The Christian faith is often characterized as a "marathon" not a "sprint." And for good reason.
Whether we look back to the founding of this great country---further back to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God---or even further back to the time of the prophets, we discover perseverance is a key component of the Faith.
It is a key component to seeing God's Will and God's Plan come to fruition.
Jeremiah is one of many outstanding examples of perseverance.
He had proclaimed God's message of the coming destruction of Judah for 40 years---Babylon had laid siege on Jerusalem, the fall of the city was imminent, and the things Jeremiah had been telling the people would come to pass, were coming to pass.
You would think the people would have thanked him for telling them the truth, however, that was not the case. They kept taking shots at him---he was even accused of deserting to the enemy and demoralizing the army.
In his perseverance to be faithful to God's calling on his life, he was ultimately thrown into a cistern, rather than be put to death as some were calling for.
Rescued from the cistern, he was once again asked to deliver a word from the Lord to the king who was hoping against hope it would be a better word than the last time.
Jeremiah said, "If I tell you, you will kill me, won't you? Besides, if I give you advice`you won't listen anyway" ( Jeremiah 38:15).
A person of convictions knows what he believes, where he is going...and why.
These are the men and women who have marked history.
It was Jeremiah and others like him who gave us the Old Testament.
A man who had been abused, misunderstood, thrown in a cistern, mocked and falsely accused for proclaiming God's judgement, also gave us the words so many Christians quote as their favorite verse: " I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
A light at the end of a long tunnel of God's judgement, delivered by a man who persevered in the faith.
As we give thanks to Almighty God for His blessings, let's remember to thank Him for those people---some of whom we know about, some we've never heard of---who persevered and stood strong in the faith.
And lets also thank God for empowering each of us to be one of those people for such a time as this.
Be Thankful. Be Blessed.