George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving Day in 1789; and the sixteenth U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed it in 1863. Since then it has been an official U.S. holiday.
But giving thanks has its underpinnings in the Bible.
Giving thanks is mentioned in the Bible at least 140 times. The word praise is similar in meaning, and it used even more than thanks in Scripture.
Praise means to appreciate, to prize. It is the act by which we consider that which is precious, worthy of honor, and worthy of thanksgiving.
From Moses to Malachi and from Jesus to John’s epistles, the Bible is replete with occasions of thanksgiving and praise. The Bible is also the source of early North American customs for celebrating occasions of thanksgiving.
And what did Abraham Lincoln contribute to the concept?
“The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” he said more than 150 years ago. “To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God”
In his wise and lyrical prose, Lincoln expressed two fundamental life lessons that bear remembering today. The vanity of human nature inclines each of us to take credit for producing all we enjoy, causing us to ignore, or even forget, the real source of our existence and blessings. But it is God who created and sustains life on earth and it is He who provides the abundance of resources that we tend to take for granted.
And so, with heartfelt appreciation, happy and a most blessed Thanksgiving!