Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks Beyond Circumstances

This has been one of those weeks where I have received much bad news from friends.  Cancer, grief, miscarriage, death, moving, and health issues have all made unwelcomed appearances this week amongst people I know. 
My friends facing these issues are believers, and they are facing Thanksgiving with hard circumstances.  As Christians, though, God calls us to look beyond our temporal circumstances and live in thanks for the eternal state of our souls.  As we journey through valleys, we should be able to look up with an eternal perspective and secure hope to see the glory we will enjoy--an existence far beyond the dark, unknown valley we might currently traverse. 
Ephesians 5:19b-20 says, "Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This verse reminds us that we are to thank God ALWAYS, even when life is hard and painful.  We are also to be thankful for EVERYTHING, as we know God is sovereign and allows circumstances in our life to grow us and form us into the image of Christ.
Christian ladies, as you sit around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow, you might be facing hard, painful trials--circumstances that bring us real tears and pain.  However, our hope is not gone or in vain.  We are still His, and He is faithful.  In the midst of trial, we should shine brightly amongst our non-Christian friends and family, who wonder how we can be peaceful, trusting, and THANKFUL in the midst of very hard circumstances.  What an opportunity to share the hope we have!
Abraham Lincoln wrote a proclamation about making Thanksgiving a national holiday in October 1863.  He called the nation to repent of sin and focus on God's goodness.  Lincoln was focused on thanks, praise and glory to God in the midst of a very painful and difficult Civil War.  In fact, in October 1863, Union forces were not doing well.  The Confederacy had just won several important battles: Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Chickamauga.  Success for the Union looked bleak.  Yet, Lincoln chose this very difficult period of life and presidency to point to God's goodness in the midst of the valley and our need to exalt Him.  He was living out Ephesians 5:19-20.
I encourage you, whether you are in a time of plenty or a time of need, to give thanks wholeheartedly and confidently to God.  Happy Thanksgiving--a day of thanks for the world, and a life of thanks to God to those who are in Christ.

October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

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 theatre of military conflict; while that theatre 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 defence, 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 battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness 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, tranquillity 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 Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

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