Thanksgiving: The Key to Unlocking Happiness EverydayBy
In 1863 the Civil War raged. In July the battle of Gettysburg was fought resulting in 60,000 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. It was the single worst battle in American history for casualties. And that was just one battle. Brother fought against brother, father fought against son, friend fought against friend. It split apart families and tragedy touched nearly every American home.
A few months later President Abraham Lincoln walked among the thousands of graves at the battlefield of Gettysburg, when it was dedicated as a national cemetery. The horror of the human suffering that had taken place there only a few months before overwhelmed him with grief. He was the Union commander-in-chief of this war that was wrecking so much destruction. The mental torment was debilitating.
One week later, in the midst of this horrific time, Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation declaring a national holiday for giving thanks to God.
President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are 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 imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
As we come to Thanksgiving perhaps your year has been filled with challenges. Death of a loved one, poor health, financial difficulties, employment stress, marital struggles. All very real and painful.
I think of what Lincoln and the country must have felt at that moment, as well. Nearly every home touched by the terror of that awful war. Yet Lincoln called the country to stop and set aside a day to give thanks. It isn’t “turkey day” it is “Thanksgiving Day.” And whether you are an American or not it is a good reminder to slow down and remember all the blessings you have.
Scripture says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)
He says pray about your needs continually, and then in every circumstance give thanks to God. He doesn’t say, “When everything is going great give thanks.” Actually for some that would be a step in the right direction. No he says in all circumstances, even the difficult times, give thanks.
Why? Because by faith you believe God is in control of your life and leading you. And when you are praying about your needs continually and constantly giving thanks it will bring about “joy always.”
So this Thanksgiving take some time to pause and give thanks. Thank God for all you already have. No matter what you are facing your life is still filled with many other blessings. Thank God for each of them individually.
Then carry over the practice into your daily life.
First thing, when you get up in the morning, instead of turning on the TV or the radio, think about everything you have to be thankful for and thank God for each one.
Next, as you drive to work, pray for your needs and give thanks for the beauty of this world around you.
Finally, when you go to bed, before drifting off to sleep, again thank God for the day he gave you and the blessings of it.
And when you are facing challenges, thank God for his presence and guidance. Pray for his help and direction.
The result will be joy and confidence. An inner peace will begin to fill you. You will sense God’s leading and begin to see his answers. And you will have confidence for the future as you focus on all of the blessings you have already.
This clears your mind of fear and defeat. And sets you up to be in tune with God’s guidance. It gives you the courage to step out and solve the problems you’re facing. As well as, your life will just be a whole lot more fun.
So take the message of Thanksgiving with you, throughout the year. And experience true joy every day. Start this Thanksgiving. Let me know what you discover.
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Douglas Armey, the LPL Financial adviser associated with this website, practices in Fresno, California and may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the following states: California, Idaho and Oregon.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance reference is historical and is no guarantee of future results.