Devotion

A Uniquely American Holiday

by Greg Laurie on Nov 23, 2023
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
—Psalm 100:4
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Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. This is a uniquely American holiday. It doesn’t commemorate a battle or anyone’s birthday or anniversary. Rather, it’s a day set aside with the specific purpose of giving thanks to God Almighty.

Despite what the revisionists claim, many of our founding fathers were very committed Christians—not all of them, but many of them. They had a respect for God and understood that He gave us this great nation. Therefore, our first president, George Washington, set aside a day to give thanks to the Lord.

Fast-forward to today. For many, Thanksgiving is just a holiday between Halloween and Christmas. It’s a day where we get together and stuff ourselves before we go shopping on Black Friday. In fact, stores traditionally were closed on Thanksgiving Day, but now many are open. And some people don’t even call it Thanksgiving anymore. They call it Turkey Day instead.

Thanksgiving originally was a day to give glory to God, and for Christians, every day should be a day of thanksgiving, minus the turkey. Every day we should be giving thanks to the Lord. We should have an attitude of gratitude.

Researchers have discovered that gratitude actually has a positive effect on health. Dr. Robert Emmons of UC Davis said, “Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret, and depression, which can destroy our happiness. There’s even recent evidence . . . showing that gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression.”[1]

Psalm 100 is identified as a psalm of thanksgiving; it originally was given to the people of Israel. After God delivered them from Egypt, they made a very long trek through the wilderness, ultimately arriving at the brink of the Promised Land.

But God warned them, “When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him” (Deuteronomy 6:11–13 NLT).

This can very easily happen to us as well. When we’re in trouble, when we’re facing crisis, we call on God. But when things are going reasonably well, we can start to forget about God.

We need to remember to give thanks to God. We might set an alarm to remind us to get up at a certain hour of the day, or we ask someone to remind us to do something.

Psalm 100 is a reminder to give thanks: “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (verses 1–3 NLT).

Our rejoicing on Thanksgiving Day and, really, every day should not be based on what we have materially. It should be based on who we know. Possessions come and go. Friends come and go. So does time. But God does not come and go. He remains.

[1] Emmons, Robert. “Gratitude Is Good Medicine.” UC Davis Health, 25 Nov. 2015, health.ucdavis.edu/medicalcenter/features/2015-2016/11/20151125_gratitude.html.


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