‘Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.’ – Ps 100:4

Christians are called to experience the presence of Almighty God on a daily basis. The presence of God gives joy, hence thanksgiving is about joyful living, our day to day attitude and lifestyle. Thanksgiving is the currency into God’s presence just as Israel could only experience the presence of God through the Ark of the Covenant but now because of Jesus, God lives inside those who will place their trust in Him for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation.

During the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, when America was at war, a divided time as we have it today, what Lincoln did then provides us a sense of good reflection and reference. Lincoln ‘issued nine separate calls for public penitence, fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving. On April 30, 1863, he wrote a Proclamation calling for a Day of National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, which was passed by Congress. It became what we now call Thanksgiving Day.’ The Proclamation was about a lifestyle of repentance and gratitude not only for the Americans, but for all people. According to Lincoln ‘we have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and pray for clemency and forgiveness.’

The reflection on Lincoln’s Proclamation in such a time as this for America is that, God is the source and foundation of the healing and greatness of America. America is not self-made, but God-made, hence, a living Thanksgiving is a call for America to come back to God’s presence, the secret of her prosperity and greatness. The wisdom and legacy of Lincoln is helpful especially for the present state and condition of America today. Lincoln believed God and felt that living and offering thanksgiving to God was the one thing that Americans could do to change the course of the national pride, failure of mass democracy, and whatever is ruining the nation presently.

Living Thanksgiving goes beyond eating and drinking, the devil likes that, but the thanksgiving that makes the devil to leave us alone and return America to sanity, love and unity needs a leadership, a leader skillful in God’s presence. A nation under democratic torment needs a skillful, anointed leader who can take the nation into God’s presence where there is love, joy, peace and unity.

In 1 Samuel 16:14-23, King Saul had an evil spirit troubling him. His servants said to him, ‘Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. Let us seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit is upon you, and you shall become well.’ One of the servants said, ‘Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valour, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.’

Under a difficult situation in America, God found a David in Lincoln, Lincoln did not build wall between people, but he led the people into God’s presence through his Proclamation. He ‘took a harp and sing,’ through the Proclamation shaped by penitence, fasting and prayers and America was refreshed and well again. Living Thanksgiving is a call to national life for repentance and demonstration of a sense and attitude of gratitude to God. The greatness of America is for America to arise again as of old and bless God because God made and bless America.