Scott Cole: Thanksgiving ... from the Bible to ENC
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:2
Since the time of the ancient Hebrews, it has been customary to offer thanks to God. Throughout the Middle Ages, kings and emperors would hold dedications of thanksgiving in honor of a successful military campaign, for being spared of a horrible epidemic or to celebrate a bountiful harvest.
In America, we are familiar with the story of the Pilgrims in search of a home where they could be free of religious persecution. After a brutal first winter in Massachusetts, following a storm tossed journey on the Mayflower, many of the settlers perished. The Pilgrims received help from the native Wampanoag tribe and shared a great feast from the rich harvest that they had reaped.
More than 150 years later, newly-elected president George Washington decreed a day of Thanksgiving to help honor God and seek His blessing as the new nation began a new era.
During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, after winning his reelection in 1864, made a proclamation that the fourth Thursday in November would be a national day of Thanksgiving. Union troops on the front lines at Petersburg received thousands of turkey and chicken dinners while across the way, the Confederate soldiers sat in their trenches, hungry and cold. This would also not be the last time our troops have been given a Thanksgiving meal on the front lines while serving our nation.
Thanksgiving remained untouched until FDR attempted to move it back a week in order to help boost Christmas sales. After a national outcry, it was changed back.
Since the founding of our nation, Thanksgiving has been a day unspoiled by commercialism. It has been a day of families and friends. It has been a day to remember, despite how bad things are, we are still lucky after all.
One year ago, my wife Tammy had some very scary health complications. For a while, it was uncertain what her fate may be. This came about eight months after we had lost custody of a young foster child we deeply loved. But throughout the personal pain and tragedy, God held our family in His hands and got us through it.
Yes, it shattered me to the core, but we pulled through and survived. In many ways, Eastern North Carolina has a reflection of what happened to our family.
We are now about two and a half months removed from a hurricane that devastated this region. This is the second such storm that has hit us in as many years.
But take a look around — we are rebuilding. The community was rocked hard, but we are not broken. We are not shattered. There are evidences of God’s handiwork all around us if we know how to look for it.
Despite the tragedies that have affected us this past fall, the love that the members of our community have for each other give us a reason to take pause and thank God for all the blessings we have. Even if we lost everything we have, we are still abundantly rich in His love and He will not forsake us.
This is going to be a very critical holiday season for this area. While you are out shopping this weekend, please donate to as many local charities as you can so that others can partake in this season too. Take a look around this week and be thankful for all that you have.
You will find that you too are truly blessed.