It's really just around the bend. Families are now scurrying around making plans for the holidays, especially the first one coming up, the Thanksgiving holiday. Majority of the families in America are now lining up recipe books and filling up the pantry and the refrigerator with ingredients and ready meals for Thanksgiving dinner. Schedules were already moved to either a day before or after November 26, 2009 to allow ample time to celebrate Thanksgiving with the entire family. Many already have made plans to gather together for dinner on this fourth Thursday of November to enjoy each other's company. I wonder how many of these families, though, would sit down and really remember why they celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Being an immigrant in the United States of America, I have not yet become very familiar with the many other holidays that this country celebrate aside from the major Christmas and New Year that my own country, the Philippines, celebrate. When I arrived in 2006, I was introduced to this other major holiday as we were making our work schedules in the hospital. A lot of the Filipino families who are already in America have been holding Thanksgiving dinners with friends and families just because it's a national holiday that everybody else is celebrating. But do we really understand the reality behind Thanksgiving Day?
Thanksgiving iss one important holiday Americans celebrate each year. You would find yourself surrounded with images of pumpkins, turkeys, cornucopias, corn and fruits like cranberries the moment Thanksgiving approaches. So I did my little research and extra readings that led me to understand that this particular holiday had a very rich and interesting origin. To make the long story short, it was a celebration of harvest of the legendary Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. It was literally a celebration of Thanksgiving on the divine providence of God. Native Indians taught these pilgrims how to survive by growing their food. The pilgrims had a period of prayer and fasting to ask God to help their crops grow amidst the drought that took place. They eventually survived as they learnt to grow corn, beans and pumpkins from the Indians, most especially from the rain that God provided. In Autumn of 1621, the pilgrims organized a feast and they gathered together, with the Indians as their guests, to celebrate the bountiful blessings that they have received from God. The fourth Thursday of November became a permanent and official national holiday in America in 1941 as it was established by Congress.
It is quiet interesting to know that the origins of this particular holiday were humble hearts of pilgrims who acknowledged the Sovereignty of God in His provisions for them. This particular holiday was basked in prayer and fasting hundreds of years ago as these pilgrims placed their hope and trust in the Almighty God. It really makes me wonder if this is still the case today. I really wonder if the families who celebrate Thanksgiving still spend time in prayer (and fasting) in order to give thanks to God who has been Sovereign in all circumstances in our lives.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that we should...
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
The verse does not say in SOME circumstances, but in ALL circumstances. It also didn't say giving thanks FOR all circumstances but IN all circumstances. Giving thanks in all circumstances does not mean being thankful if a loved one died in an accident. It doesn't mean being thankful that a friend is chronically and terminally ill. It doesn't mean that we are to thank God if our neighbor or a church member lost the only job that sustains their family. It's not the kind of thanksgiving that makes us robots just because of the sake of being thankful. It means that even if our circumstances are grim, we can thank God in all these because of His sovereign grace to help us carry through whatever storm we are facing. We ought to be reminded that we are to thank God for He is in control and that He is your sustainer when your emotional, spiritual and physical strength could no longer do.
My prayer this Thanksgiving holiday is that every family who will gather together will remember to praise and thank God in all the circumstances that they have in life. It doesn't matter if there is a delicious, whole, golden brown turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce on your table, or there's just a piece of pumpkin pie before your family this Thanksgiving. Let us all bow our heads down and spend time to give back all the Praise & Thanksgiving that our Lord and Savior, our Almighty Father deserves. He has continually blessed us beyond what we deserve, therefore, may we acknowledge His Sovereign power and control over ALL the circumstances in our lives and may we one day come to a point of gratitude where the ultimate offering of our lives consecrated to Him and Him alone be our only priority in this lifetime.
May God richly bless and keep you and your family this Thanksgiving holiday 2009!