SOUDER: A Thanksgiving proclamation: Giving thanks to God, by George

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The proclamation of George Washington seems pretty clear about thanking God.

By Chuck Souder

A Thanksgiving proclamation: Giving thanks to God, by George

Asked to write a composition entitled "What I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving," 7-year-old Timmy wrote, "I’m thankful that I’m not a turkey!"

Maybe this Thanksgiving you feel like that little boy – that the only thing you can think of for which to be thankful is that you’re not a turkey. Perhaps your life isn’t going like you had hoped it would. Maybe your marriage is crumbling, your children are disobedient, your job isn’t fulfilling, and your car won’t start. Or maybe you can only wish that you were married or had kids or a job or a car.

Perhaps you can identify with the man who was discussing his latest turkey hunt with his friend. “I’m never taking my wife hunting with me again!” he declared emphatically.

“It was that bad?” his friend asked.

“It sure was. She did everything wrong – she didn’t do anything I told her. She chattered too much, constantly disturbed the undergrowth, loaded the wrong gauge shot in the gun and used the wrong luring whistles.”

“That does sound bad,” his friend said.

“But that’s not even the worst of it”, the first man said.           

“What could be worse than all of that?” his friend asked.

“The worst part,” the man said, “was that she shot more turkeys than me!”

Things are tough all over. If things are going well for you this holiday season, then great! Don’t forget to thank God for your blessings. But if you’re feeling like you have nothing for which to be thankful, here’s a good place to start: God loves you so much that Jesus came to die for your sins so that you can live the life you were created to live and then spend eternity in heaven. Because of this, we can speak directly to God and know that He hears and cares about our prayers. Now that is cause for thanksgiving!

I’m also thankful that gratitude to God was woven into the fabric of our nation. Despite the politically correct version being advanced by some these days, the Pilgrims were declaring their thanks to God on that first Thanksgiving Day in 1621, not to the American Natives who feasted with them. Further, our Founding Fathers made it clear time and time again that they acknowledged and were thankful to God for His providence in the establishment of our great nation. Consider the following words, written by George Washington in the first year of his presidency. Though they are in the flowery formal language common at that time, the message is still clear today.

By the president of the United States of America, a proclamation:

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will b – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war – for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted – for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us – and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

“Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789, George Washington”

Someone apparently forgot to tell George that America wasn’t founded as “one nation under God,” and that by publicly calling on the country to pray and give thanks to God he was violating the (supposed) separation of church and state. I believe this – and other similar writings of our Founding Fathers – should be required reading for our school children today, and for any adult who would try to erase God from the national conversation. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, I encourage you to pause to truly thank God for his provision, both for you and our country.

And no matter how bad things are, remember it could be worse: You could be a turkey.


Chuck Souder is on staff at Shelby Christian Church. He can be reached at csouder@shelbychristian.org. Find other columns by Souder at www.SentinelNews.com/columns.