Abraham Lincoln isn’t only known today as the “Great Emancipator” but is also known as the first U.S. president who declared Thanksgiving Day as a holiday in 1863, which eventually became an annual holiday in 1941.
Lincoln recognized that although America has “grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has grown,” its people have forgotten God. He said: “We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom.”
And he continued: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
His words are worth repeating here for they were true then as they still are today not only as nation but as a people. And yet, despite this acknowledgment of dependence to a Creator who graciously provides for the people, we somehow fail to show our gratefulness.
There are those who still want to remove the words “In God We Trust” in every document or public building where these are inscribed. There are also those who continue to disagree in school prayers. They claim that government shouldn’t intrude upon individual freedom.
We could have a lengthy debate on both sides of these issues but what we wish to point out here is an acknowledgment to give thanks and praises for our blessings that come from a God that made us.
As Lincoln said: “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proved by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
On this Thanksgiving Day, it is our hope that we are reminded of those words, in spirit and in truth.