Although often over-shadowed by the Christmas season, there may be no greater day that reflects the Christian faith than Thanksgiving. Most will point to Plymouth Rock as the birth of Thanksgiving, while others will argue that Thanksgiving began within Jamestown in the year 1607.
However, the origin of Thanksgiving Day is really found in the Bible.
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Lincoln phrased it this way because he knew that thanksgiving to God is a biblical concept that has been practiced by God’s people for many generations.
In the Old Testament, Israelites praised God for their deliverance from the Egyptian army. David wrote a psalm of thanksgiving when the ark was brought into Jerusalem. Once again the Jewish nation celebrated with a feast of thanksgiving after being delivered from total destruction by Haman.
In the New Testament, the church was given a mandate to always give thanks. In church history we find this mandate to the church being followed. The authors of the Heidelberg Catechism wrote, “How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou ... mayest live and die happily? Three things, the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such a deliverance.”
The Westminster Confession says that “Prayer, with Thanksgiving being one part of religious Worship, is, by God, required of all men.”
Thanksgiving seems to be a major factor in which the true Christian faith rises far above nonbelief. Nonbelievers only give thanks to other people. If people let them down, there is no thanksgiving to offer. But watch a Christian who suffers through hardships, pain and even death and in most cases you will see the most amazing displays of thanksgiving given.
This Christian Thanksgiving is what was found within the Pilgrims. It is also the same thanksgiving we see when Christians thank God after Superstorm Sandy destroys their house, and yet still are able to thank God for their deliverance. It’s the same Christian thanksgiving we see when a loved one dies and a Christian can thank God for not allowing any more suffering.
In all of life, Christians give praise and honor with thanksgiving to their God.
Director of Communication
The Christian Resource Center