The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 28:7 (English Standard Version)
What a year, eh?
It would seem that after everything our nation has experienced in 2020, it would be harder to rejoice and give thanks – but I don’t believe that to be the case.
Even in the midst of trials and tribulation and suffering, there are blessings for which we can be grateful. In fact, there are blessings for which we should be grateful, despite the sorrow and injustice we see around us, and even as we see government officials prohibiting families from gathering together to celebrate – in a supposedly free country.
Cultivating a grateful heart, no matter the world’s circumstances, ensures that we do the right things for the right reasons, and that we are not overcome with the same bitterness and hatred that we have witnessed not just this year, but for the last four years.
Sadly, it is too easy to ignore our blessings and focus only on the brokenness of our world. I implore you to reject this path, and encourage you, even though it is difficult sometimes, to find the true, the good, and the beautiful in life.
This is also why history is so important, and why we must work to ensure future generations of Americans know real history. It is history that reminds us that people, and our country, have gone through hard times before. And yet, the people who came before were still thankful, as we can be as well.
I am including excerpts from the Thanksgiving Proclamations from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln below my signature, because firstly, they are beautiful pieces of our history. And secondly, they remind us that our nation has faced upheaval and division before, and yet we triumphed over it. When Washington gave his, it was just six years after the Revolutionary War had ended; Lincoln gave his in the middle of the Civil War.
Therefore, it is my fervent wish this Thanksgiving for you and your family, that you enjoy each other – in person, if at all possible; that you share your love and gratitude for one another; and that you see and appreciate all of the blessings in your life, big or small. I wish you good health, good food, and the confidence that comes from knowing our truest joy and hope do not rest in this world.
And, it is my fervent prayer that if you one of our older members who is forced to be alone this Thanksgiving, you know you are loved and appreciated; I pray you know you are not alone.
Wishing you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving,
Jenny Beth Martin
Excerpt from George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
October 3, 17891
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord-
Excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
October 3, 18632
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.