Notwithstanding the raging Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. According to the Thanksgiving story, the roots for this holiday stretch back to 1621 when the Pilgrims of Plymouth shared a feast with the Wampanoag people.
While many today view Thanksgiving primarily as a time for family, feasting and the shopping floodgates swinging open, Christians will often seize upon this day as an opportunity to focus upward. Prayers of thanksgiving and praise for God’s loving kindness will ascend before enjoying turkey and pie.
Considering this year’s difficulties and what might yet lie ahead, perhaps Psalm 34 can serve as a template for this year’s Thanksgiving. It calls us to remember as well as look forward.
Join Me In Praising God
Immediately David’s opening praise beckons us to join him (Psalm 34:1-3). David’s words will resonate in our hearts, if we have ever emerged from a dark valley, whether dire illness, exhausted finances or from extreme stress having known that the Lord was our only hope.
David reminds us of God’s compassionate care for the fearful, afflicted and brokenhearted (Ps. 34:4,6,18). Such misery does not turn God’s face away, rather God approaches those who cry out to him (Ps. 34:17-19). This is our God. Our God is good! (Ps. 34:8).
Remember How To Live
In the midst of celebrating what God has done, tomorrow’s unknowns remain just around the corner. David reminds us to be prepared by knowing how to live (Ps. 34:11).
“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth” (Ps. 34:15-16).
This is no promise of an easy life nor does it enable us to manipulate God for our own self-centered reasons, rather the righteous may encounter many afflictions (Ps. 34:19). God, however, provides the strength and means to deliver (Ps. 34:19).
Remember The End
There is an ultimate end to all things. David’s words seem to call us to measure our lives, not based upon our current mountains and valleys, but rather upon God’s ultimate verdict toward us.
“Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD will redeem his servants; all who take refuge in him will escape” (Ps. 34:21,22).
This has been a rough year, yet we have reasons to be thankful while lifting up our hearts in prayer this Thanksgiving. We can enjoy God’s provisions from the turkey to the pie. And if we are wise, we will also remind ourselves how to live tomorrow in order that redemption will be the final state of our story.