Give Thanks in All Circumstances - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Everyday Living Faith
November 21, 2018

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, many across the country are making careful (or hurried) preparations for the big day – turkeys are being purchased, pies prepped, table settings made, invitations sent out. Some look with eager expectancy on the day and the joy of being with loved ones while others groan inwardly thinking of the stress that ensues from large family get-togethers. Still others might be eager to see the day come and go, as the holidays are simply a reminder of loneliness.

Thanksgiving may mean many different things to many different people. In light of this, how does Geneva College make sense of the holiday? First, we recognize the historical significance of Thanksgiving and what this holiday means for us as a country, and then ask ourselves what we are thankful for today in light of God’s continued grace upon us.

Thanksgiving origins

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared a meal to celebrate surviving the harsh winter the previous year. They held a three-day festival to give thanks to God for their harvest, made possible by their friendship with the natives, who, among other skills, taught them the fundamentals of growing corn. The festival celebrated the colonist’s freedom in the new land, recognizing God’s provisions for them in the face of danger, cold and starvation. Then, two years later, another feast was held to signify the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest.

Throughout the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated a few days of giving thanks, and in 1789 George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the U.S. national government to celebrate the war’s conclusion and the ratification of the U.S. constitution. However, it was not until 1863 in the middle of the Civil War that President Lincoln, after receiving numerous letters of petition from the magazine editor Sarah Joseph Hale, declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. The president desired the day to be viewed as a time to ask God “to commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and “to heal the wounds of the nation.” America has celebrated this holiday every November since.

Giving thanks at all times

Today, Thanksgiving has lost much of its religious significance. For most of us, it is simply a great excuse to wear a pant size up and catch up with friends and family. While such celebrating is well and good, we should not forget that this day stands as a reminder of God’s provisions for us, both in the past and the present day. Scripture encourages us to give thanks at all times, and not just on the holiday. For whether we have friends and family to get together with or are on our own this 22nd, we are reminded to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). While giving thanks may mean celebration (turkey and pie, friends and family) it also may mean the posture of heart one encourages and lives out. For since “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17), He is worthy to be praised for every gift given, both big and small. As Thanksgiving approaches then, let the day serve as a reminder of how God has provided for us, as individuals, as a college, and as a country.

Learn more about Geneva College, where students are inspired to integrate faith in Christ into all aspects of their lives by contacting Admissions - 800-947-8255 or admissions@geneva.edu. 

For historical information, this post references: https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving

-Emily Walker '20