Thanksgiving is next week. While Thanksgiving and harvest festivals are celebrated at various times during the year throughout the world, you remember the historical basis for this great American holiday — how the Pilgrims in Massachusetts joined with the local Native Americans in thanking their Creator and Provider after the Pilgrims had survived a rough first year with the Indians’ help. (While there are other accounts about the Pilgrim/Indian relationship and claims of earlier celebrations in the New World, and even a similar celebration by the Pilgrims before coming to America, a historical fact is that the holiday we celebrate is based on the event at Plymouth in 1621.)
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Thanksgiving as “the fourth Thursday in November observed as a legal holiday for giving thanks for divine goodness.” Therein is the basis for our thanks: The Divine. Whenever someone does something good for us, the appropriate response is to give thanks. When we know who the benefactor is, we should express that gratitude directly to them and also about them (Philemon 1:12-15; 2 Corinthians 9:12-15).
When good things come to us from nature, like sunshine and rain that make crops grow to provide the necessities of life (food, clothing, and shelter) and even most opportunities for pleasure, who do you thank? Nature? Who is nature? Nature actually is a demonstration of God’s power and love — a demonstration of his divine nature (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:14; Matthew 5:45). He is the one to whom we should be thankful for meeting all our needs.
Even then, we’re not to wait until the good is done to be thankful. We’re to go ahead and ask God for our needs and desires according to his will being thankful ahead of time knowing that he will take care of us in a way that is in our best interest (John 14:12-14; Psalm 37:3, 4; 1 John 5:14, 15). Often, he also allows us to help others along the way, which is a Godly attribute and a further blessing from him (2 Corinthians 9:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:6-8, 17-19; Ephesians 4:28).
There may have been little peace between the Pilgrims and Indians at first, but because of a common thankfulness to their Creator and Provider, peace came about (Philippians 4:4-7). One of Jesus’ prayers on the night before his crucifixion was that his church would be united so that the world could understand his love (John 17:11, 20-23; 13:34, 35). Then he went to the cross to complete the work of peacemaking God had sent him to do (Ephesians 2:11-22; John 17:1-5).
The attitude of gratitude is an attitude of anticipation of the great things God, our Creator and Provider, has in store for us (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10). That includes peace on earth to men on whom God’s favor rests (Luke 2:15).
Come ye thankful people, let’s reason together to agree on God’s message to bring about peace (1 Corinthians 1:10-12; Isaiah 1:18-20; Ephesians 4:1-6).