A Heart of Thanksgiving


The November Holiday is More than Just “Turkey Day”

What does it mean to have a heart of Thanksgiving? It’s a relevant question as November dawns on us. With this month’s arrival, our thoughts turn to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. However, recently, Thanksgiving has become more about a huge turkey dinner and football than gratitude. The University of Illinois Extension reports that, in the United States, people eat 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving. Many people now informally refer to the holiday as “Turkey Day.” Honestly, this is sad.

Food and Football Aren’t the Reason for Thanksgiving

Now, don’t get us wrong. We enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, corn, and the rest, as well as football, just as much as the next person. Those things, though, were never meant to be the point of the Thanksgiving holiday. We set Thanksgiving set aside for exactly what its name suggests: giving thanks. Gratitude is quickly becoming less and less of a virtue in our society, and some people are no longer thankful. This is not at all a good thing. This month, we here at The R.O.C.K. Club in Radford, VA, want to discuss what it means to have a heart of Thanksgiving. Let’s make thankfulness the primary reason for Thanksgiving once again.

The History of Thanksgiving

Why is there a holiday dedicated to being thankful and having gratitude? Let’s take a look at the history of Thanksgiving. The original colonists in New England held frequent thanksgivings. These were days in which the colonists would dedicate to prayer and praising God for His help in different situations. The event called “The First Thanksgiving,” though, was held in October 1621. That’s when the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the Plymouth colony. This Thanksgiving lasted for three days. The Wampanoag people, who had helped the Pilgrims, also attended this celebration.

Lincoln Set Thanksgiving for the Last Thursday of November

As an American holiday, President George Washington declared a Thanksgiving day in 1789. This continued yearly, however, until President Thomas Jefferson chose not to celebrate the day. The American people would then occasionally celebrate a Thanksgiving until 1863. That year, President Abraham Lincoln decreed a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” He set it for the last Thursday of November. President Lincoln wanted to, and wanted Americans to, praise and thank God, even in the middle of the turbulent Civil War. In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant made Thanksgiving a federal holiday. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the celebration date to the fourth Thursday in November. An act of Congress in 1942 then permanently set that as the date.

Having a Heart of Thanksgiving

So now we know the “how,” but what about the “why”? Why is it important to have a heart of Thanksgiving? Why should people show gratitude? We really need to be thankful to others for what they do for us. Thankfulness is a sign of strong character. It is also a realization that we can’t do everything on our own. It’s a reminder of our state of dependence. No matter how much we imagine that we are individuals who need no one, we really do depend on others. We need to be grateful for the help they give us. This is the key to a heart of Thanksgiving.

Always Be Grateful for What You Have

Being ungrateful is also an early step on the slippery slope to corruption and wickedness. In the Bible, Romans 1 outlines the fall of man away from God and into degradation. Romans 1:21 reads, “… neither were thankful…” as one of the downward steps. When we stand in pride and arrogance and refuse to show gratitude, we take another step down a dangerous road. In fact, God commands us to have a heart of Thanksgiving. Colossians 3:15 in the Bible states, “ … and be ye thankful.” There is no “maybe” or “if you feel like it” in that statement. God wants you to be thankful, no matter what your situation may be. There are always blessings in our lives; we just have to be willing to see them.

More Specifically, We Should Have a Heart of Thanksgiving to God

We should have a heart of Thanksgiving toward people around us, but more importantly, we always should have a heart of Thanksgiving toward God. When you consider what God has done for you, it should produce gratitude toward Him. “Well,” you may ask, “what has God done for me?” OK, breathe in. Now, breathe out. Do you know what that is? That’s life, and you have it because of God. In the Bible, Psalm 100:3 states, “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” God created the world, everything that is in it, and you. He gives us life, and that should be enough to have a heart of thankfulness toward Him. The next Bible verse, Psalm 100:4, states, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

God is Thankful for You

Did you know that God is thankful for you? In the Bible, Zephaniah 3:17 reads, “… he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” God loves you, and He is thankful for you. Can you imagine that? The God who created the universe cares about you and is thankful that you are here. It may be hard for you to comprehend that, but it is true. He loves you, and for that, you should have a heart of Thanksgiving toward Him.

The R.O.C.K. Club Wants You to Have a Relationship with God

How do we know that God loves us? He told us in His book, the Bible. And not only did He tell us, He showed us by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. In the Bible, Romans 5:8 reads, “But God commendeth (or displayed) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The truth is that while God loves us, He couldn’t have a relationship with us because of our sin. God is holy, which means without sin, and our sin pushed us away from Him. And there is nothing we could ever do to make amends to Him, because our sin taints even our good works. Sin, exactly like a crime in our court system, must be punished. That punishment was death, according to Romans 6:23 in the Bible. This is not just physical death, but spiritual death, too. That means separation from God forever in a place called Hell.

Be Thankful Jesus Died on the Cross for Your Sins

But God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die in your place and pay off that debt. Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again to give you victory over death. He paid the price. Now, all you must do is believe and ask Him to save you. Through Jesus, you can have eternal life. That sounds like something we can all be thankful for! We here at The R.O.C.K. Club want you to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Please call us today, and we can show you how you can know for certain that you have eternal life. For more information on The R.O.C.K. Club’s Christ-centered childcare and educational programs, call us today at (540) 267-3000. We also want to help you understand how you can have a real relationship with God through Jesus. Don’t forget this Thanksgiving, and every day, to establish a heart of Thanksgiving!