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COLUMN: Tumultuous times call for radical thankfulness

Rev. Ron Colangelo, Special to the Daily Sentinel
Posted 10/8/22

In October 1621, 53 Pilgrims gathered in Plymouth, Mass., to celebrate the successful fall harvest along with 90 Native Americans who had helped them survive a very difficult year.

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COLUMN: Tumultuous times call for radical thankfulness


In October 1621, 53 Pilgrims gathered in Plymouth, Mass., to celebrate the successful fall harvest along with 90 Native Americans who had helped them survive a very difficult year.

They viewed the harvest as a life-giving bounty from God that would sustain them through the long winter. This time of “Thanksgiving” was a tradition the Pilgrims brought with them from England and shared with their new Indian friends. 

Desperate times call for desperate praise.

In 1789, President Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated each November. From that time on, the date of the observation of Thanksgiving varied by state until President Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November (later codified by Roosevelt as the 4th Thursday of November) as a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

What makes this proclamation intriguing is that the nation was in the middle of the Civil War. The union was fiercely divided, state against state and brother against brother as the fabric of our country was being ripped apart with the loss of life and property devastating families across the land.

All of this makes the words of President Lincoln’s proclamation even more remarkable: 

In the context of a nation at war with itself, President Lincoln drew the nation’s attention to “the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” He knew that focusing on the goodness of God changes our perspective on everything else. Honest Abe understood that the greatest weapon against chaos is thanksgiving. 

Tumultuous times call for radical thankfulness!

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2022. We have experienced what could be described as the most tumultuous years in decades. Our nation is still divided. COVID-19 has devastated families and our economy.

Racial tensions seem to be constantly at a boiling point. The Presidential election of 2020 has been the most contentious one of my lifetime. Delayed results, allegations of voter’s fraud and other irregularities, multiple legal challenges have eroded confidence in the political process. Meme after meme have expressed the chaos that we have all experienced. With all of this, what is our attitude to be on the fourth Thursday of November this year?

May I suggest that we follow the lead of the Pilgrims and President Lincoln by simply giving thanks. As believers, we can find God’s hand leading, providing, and protecting us in everything.

If you are still breathing, God has brought you through to this point. So, in spite of all that has happened, things are always true of us in Christ:

God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have received redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) We have been “raised up with him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6) “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Heavenly focus calls for transformative thanksgiving.

As Christ followers, we have infinite reasons to be thankful. Let me encourage you to shift your eyes away from the chaos of the last few years and instead focus on the truths that we are saved, sanctified, sealed, secured, and sustained by the blood of Jesus on the Cross and the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of the Father.

When you focus on Him, no matter what happens, thanksgiving will flow naturally and freely, not just on the fourth Thursday in November, but all day every day!

I know it’s early but I just wanted to wish you a very Happy Thankful Thanksgiving. May God bless you and your family, Always! — Pastor Ron.


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