In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Giving thanks is good for our souls.
Still, we all have the question: How can I give thanks in all circumstances?
The answer is: Only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Immediately after commanding the Thessalonians to give thanks in all circumstances Paul says, “Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) You need the fire of the Holy Spirit in your soul if you are ever going to be able to give thanks in all circumstances. Perhaps we can learn this valuable lesson from a great man who went before us.
Abraham Lincoln’s life was marked with pain and difficulty.
When he was nine, his mother died.
Though he loved books, he received little formal education.
His sister died in childbirth.
At age twenty-four he was left badly in debt when a store he invested in failed.
When he was twenty-five the woman he loved caught fever and died–he suffered deep depression.
Three years later he proposed to another woman and she turned him down.
At thirty-four he lost the nomination for U.S. Congress–one of many elections that he would lose.
Only one of his four sons lived to adulthood–one died just short of age four, one at age 11, one at 18.
Lincoln faced great obstacles and suffered deep depression. He would be remembered as one of the greatest presidents for his courage in ending slavery. And we owe to him gratitude for his great Proclamation of Thanksgiving. Lincoln was not a man who grieved without hope. He knew the absolute necessity of giving thanks in all times. Consider these words, share them with your family this Thanksgiving:
Proclamation of Thanksgiving
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. 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 the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed,
Done at the city of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
– Steve Arterburn