Thanksgiving Then and Now

I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. May God continue to bless you and your family.

Sometimes we forget how Thanksgiving Day–a uniquely American holiday–began. In 1621, Governor William Bradford of Massachusetts decreed December 13, 1621, as a day of feasting and thanksgiving to God for His provision and protection.

This decree came on the heels of the Pilgrims’ near destruction in their first winter in the new world. In that winter food was almost nonexistent and nearly half of the original colonists died. A good summer crop and an unexpected trading vessel gave them hope they might survive. These blessings led to Bradford’s decree.

Thanksgiving Day began officially during the Civil War when President Lincoln set the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving in 1863. That year was probably the bloodiest and worst year of the war.

Notice the similarity of those two events. Both came when all seemed hopeless and lost.

There are two ways we could take these two times of Thanksgiving.

First, we could say that Thanksgiving is proper in times of trouble and fear. That was certainly the case with them. Isn’t it amazing how they gave thanks in the midst of perilous circumstances?

Paul told the church at Thessalonica to do exactly that. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Is it possible that you are going through very difficult times? It is proper to give thanks in every circumstance you face.

Second, we could say that Thanksgiving is proper when you understand how much you have and how blessed you are. So far this year not half of the people I know have died (as it was among the Pilgrims) and we are not in the midst of the worst war America has ever seen (as was the case in 1863).

Is it possible that you are experiencing very good times? It is proper to give thanks for your many blessings.

No matter the situation, it is right and proper for us to offer thanks and blessing of our great God who loves and cares for us.

Have a blessed day!

7 Comments


  1. Elaine Cunningham
    Nov 22, 2018

    Is there a reason that you don’t write a devotional every day?
    I can never remember which day that I won’t get one, anyway I enjoy them so I will get what I can.


  2. Sylvia Snyder
    Nov 22, 2018

    Wishing you and your family a blessed and safe Thanksgiving. Just want to thank you for taking the time to write these devotions, they inspired me each day.


  3. Mick Box
    Nov 22, 2018

    Happy Thanksgiving to you & Martha


  4. Mary Ann Rooks
    Nov 22, 2018

    Thank you so much for this devotion. Our family has been through so much especially these past weeks that I appreciate your reminder that those before us suffered so much. We are thankful for our God & His goodness to us in all circumstances.


  5. Scott Hymel
    Nov 22, 2018

    I read George Washington’s National Thanksgiving Proclamation speech he made in 1789 every year at the Thanksgiving table. It’s worth looking up and reciting.


  6. Scot Martin
    Nov 22, 2018

    Happy Thanksgiving! God bless you!


  7. Tissie Gibson
    Nov 22, 2018

    Hope you, Martha and your family had a very Happy
    Thanksgiving!

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Verse of the Day

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. — Deuteronomy 18:15 (NIV)