Giving Thanks in Tenuous Times
As fractured as our nation is post-election, Thanksgiving couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. That may sound absurd or even calloused, but consider how the tradition of Thanksgiving was started. In 1621 the Plymouth Colonists joined nearby Native Americans to celebrate the harvest God had provided–a coming-together of two disparate cultures giving thanks. At the height of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday, asking Americans to pray for God to “heal the wounds of the nation.” Doesn’t this prayer and sentiment reflect exactly where we are in 2016? President Lincoln instituted Thanksgiving at a time when, by the definition of “Civil War”, we were the most divided in our history. Given its origins, Thanksgiving couldn’t come at a more poignant time for healing to cultivate both within our hearts and within our nation. That healing starts with understanding why as Christians we can be thankful in the midst of our nation’s current emotional climate.
3 Ways You Can Cultivate Thanksgiving in Post-election America:
1.) Gratitude for the Kingdom we’re receiving
Many have been shaken by the results of the election because their hope for the future has been crushed. Regardless of how you voted, as a believer you have an assured hope in Jesus. He is our living hope. He is bringing forth a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And we will receive His kingdom which is greater than and will outlast all human governments and kingdoms.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” – Hebrews 12:28 NIV
2.) Thankfulness that He takes care of our lives
Political Scientists define politics as “Who gets what, when, how.” We know from Scripture God is sovereignly in control of those details in our lives. He’s committed to taking care of us. Therefore we can praise Him because as the Psalmist says, He makes our boundaries fall in pleasant places.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me…”
Psalm 16:6-7b NIV
Consider that David, the author of this Psalm, spent a significant period of his life outrunning a death threat from the top political leader of his nation. This Scripture carries tremendous weight in shifting our perspective to be thankful that God is our source, no matter what human government does.
3.) Be at peace that His plans for you haven’t changed.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
This familiar Scripture is more than a general encouragement when you consider the setting in which God spoke it. The remnant of God’s people, the entire southern kingdom of Judah (minus the poorest in the land) had been exiled into Babylon; one of the most intimidating, violent, and barbaric kingdoms of its day. Yet in that land of Babylon, God promised His people that He had a good plan and future for them. They were instructed to stay put and pray for Babylon’s peace and prosperity and seek God’s will for themselves while there. You and I can do the same this Thanksgiving!
So as we celebrate Thanksgiving next week, let’s make an inward shift. Recognize the opportunity we have as Christians; to change the conversation from what divides our nation and dwell on how God is holding our lives together. In fact let us carry out the encouragement of President Lincoln and ask God once again to heal the wounds of our nation.
Happy Thanksgiving Every Nation NYC!