When God lead Israel from their bondage in Egypt, they were quite sure that God would give them everything that they needed, and also safely lead them to Canaan.
Nevertheless, Moses had to warn them that they were not to forget God “lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and flocks multiply, and thy silver and gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt . .” (Deuteronomy 8:12-14)
Do you think that such a change is predominate in America today where there is more wealth than the wildest dreams that a pilgrim ever imagined? There is more corn and wheat rotting in storage today than the pilgrim’s top farmer ever thought there would be in the whole world. A pilgrim would stand aghast at the sight of the luxuries and modern conveniences in our homes. Americans live in a land of milk and honey. They have money to waste. America has eaten its full, but has forgotten to give true thanks.
H. W. Prentis is quoted in the November, 1965, issue of Eternity magazine, He says that “history runs in a cycle from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to courage, from courage to freedom, from freedom to a measure of physical abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to fear, from fear to dependency, from dependency back again into bondage.” It certainly isn’t difficult to trace our own country’s history around that cycle and see that it is in the lower swing.
However, no nation in the world today has had a stronger religious background under God than that set forth by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock on November 11, 1620.
Just as the Israelites fled into the wilderness to escape the hands of wicked men, so did the Pilgrims put themselves on the treacherous high seas. The Israelites and the Pilgrims could rely only on the mercies of God to take them to a new land. When they did reach this land, they worshipped and thanked God for everything He had done for them.
Incredibly, however, people forgot God. One generation prays for seed and good soil wherein to plant this seed. The next generation discovers how to produce more and better yields by rotating crops and by using fertilizers. The third generation reaps a bountiful crop and then tells God that it doesn’t need Him any longer because it now has everything under control.
So often Israel too decided that she didn’t need God. But when her enemies were the victors in battles, then she repented and prayed for God’s deliverance. What then is a proper attitude of thankfulness? Since thanksgiving is a spiritual aspiration, it stands to reason that the attitude receives emphasis. This attitude is the very essence of thankfulness. True thankfulness consists of prayer to God, obeying His law, and living in all good works. We must be thankful at all times; even when adversity is our lot.
The Heidelberg Catechism teaches us that prayer is the chief part of thankfulness. This prayer must be genuine for God will not give us His grace or accept our thanks if we do not sincerely desire them. Real thankfulness is achieved only through prayer. In our prayers we must present our needs to God and thank Him for everything that comes or may come from His hand.
Again, we show our thankfulness to God by obeying His law. We must obey this law out of gratitude for the salvation of Christ for us. When we look at thankfulness from that point of view, we see that it is not just one day of giving thanks, but a whole life for giving thanks to God.
You may ask why we have or even need a Thanksgiving Day when we must give thanks every day. The purpose of this one special day, however, is to awaken us spiritually to the fact that all too often we take the blessings of God for granted. This day makes us aware of our need to thank God continually.
Not only must the child of God give thanks to God in prayer and obeying His law, but he must also walk in all good works. Only the child of God can do good works, not of himself, but by the grace of God. For only those works that proceed from a true faith testify of our love and thankfulness to God. We show before godless people how a child of God thanks his Creator. We can testify that the worldly conception of thankfulness is based on material, earthly, selfish gains.
We should Ire thankful for everything God has given us. We should give thanks for the salvation of Christ for us: for Godfearing homes, parents, teachers, and ministers. The climax of our thankfulness is a gratitude for the wonderful grace which God has given us.
Thankfulness shows itself in the way we act, talk; in our friends and desires. If we give true thankfulness to God, then all our thanksgiving days will be blessed. So let us say with the Psalmist, “Give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for his mercy endureth forever” (Psalm 136:1).