Sometimes it’s hard to keep a grateful heart. Life is busy. Assignments pile up. Deadlines press. Friends disappoint. Traffic snarls. Advertisers bombard us with messages of “stuff” we might not have, which can diminish our gratitude for what we do have. If there is one time of year to shift our thoughts from these joy-thieves, it’s Thanksgiving.
In his 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln found reason to be thankful.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, … 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; …
Lincoln went on to note that, despite 1863 being the bloodiest year in the Civil War, the land had continued to produce crops and resources in abundance, and the vigor of the nation increased. His proclamation continued,
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.
He called upon the American people to “set apart and observe” a “Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
And I recommend to them [the American people] 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 interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.
As we join family and friends at Thanksgiving this year, let us cultivate a grateful heart, one that focuses on our abundant blessings and the hope of “peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”