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Thankful “to” or “for”?

Every year as America nears its holiday of Thanksgiving, I see and hear comments about how thankful people are for one thing or another.  “I’m thankful for living in a free country.” says one.  “I’m thankful for my family.” says another.  While I can appreciate people taking time to voice their gratitude for things and people in their lives I am always curious as to whom they are “thankful.”  It truly is impossible to be thankful “for” something without being thankful “to” someone.   

Myself, I am thankful to God the creator of everything.  

 The holy bible tells me: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. “(Genesis 1:1). 

John 1:1 elaborates: “In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” ( For those not familiar with the bible, John was referring to Jesus Christ as “the Word” and “the Light”).

So that pretty much covers everything doesn’t it?  If I’m thankful for a free country I must be thankful to my God.  If I’m thankful for a beautiful sunset, I must be thankful to my God.  There is nothing that He did not create or inspire.  I feel sorry for those that don’t know their Creator and have no object of affection to reach out to; it must be like receiving a gift in the mail with no card or return address.  While it’s nice to receive a gift, it would seem emotionally hollow without knowing who sent or why they sent it; what’s the motivation behind the gift?  Is it love? Is it a bribe?  Is it a mistake?  Knowing the sender makes the gift that much sweeter.  2 Corinthians 2:14 tells us; “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” 

Our first President, George Washington wrote; 

Thanksgiving Proclamation 

[New York, 3 October 1789] 

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation. 

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” 

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…” 

Washington understood that nothing can come from nothing.  There must be an object of one’s gratitude or there really is no gratitude, just acceptance of “fate.” 

 Washington’s proclamation makes it clear that Thanksgiving is not a day of gluttony but a day of service to our God.  Go forth and be thankful to your God, serve Him with gratitude for all that He has done.

Heavenly Father, it is to You that I give all thanks this day.  Nothing exists without your consent; no joys or sorrows or food or things.  You provide everything and I am your child.  May your name be glorified not just during our holidays but every day, amen.

*To learn more about the real first Thanksgiving go to: https://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2011/05/19/the_true_story_of_thanksgiving/

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Don Williams
Believer, husband, father and grandfather. Former mayor of Lincoln City. Local business owner - [email protected]

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