President Washington did not ask the citizens to demand more from God or to question why the Revolutionary War lasted eight years, nor to reflect on the damage that occurred during the war. Instead the duty he described was to be grateful and ask for God’s protection and favor.
In a similar tumultuous time, after the Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln declared a day of Thanksgiving. His proclamation acknowledged “The gracious gifts of the Most High God.” Lincoln invited his fellow citizens to set apart and observe “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
President Lincoln did not ask the American people to be distraught over the more than 600,000 lives lost during the Civil War, nor distressed over the damage to buildings and commerce. Instead, in a time of war, He asked the American people to acknowledge the gracious gifts of God.
During our time of trials, should we not do the same? Being thankful, even for small things, allows us to be receptive and open. We are acknowledging that there are good things in life. When we are upset and demanding, we focus on the bad and shut out the possibilities of good, gifts and hope.
We should remember our duty as noted by President Washington “to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God and to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”
By giving thanks for what we have, we will begin to be receptive and open, able to dream of what might be. This optimism will then give way to action and results.
This year, as you bite into your leftover turkey sandwich, give more thanks.