This is an amazing quote by an American President...
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.
We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
~ Abraham Lincoln, October 1863.
It seems as though these words could have been delivered just yesterday by an honest observer of current events. Yet they were spoken 159 years ago by our 16th President.
The nation’s days were dark then – truly dark. He spoke these words four months after the horrors of Gettysburg, where fifty-one-thousand men lost their lives in just three days in cannon fire so intense that there was not enough left of many of those men to bury them – those hallowed fields became their burial ground. The Civil War took the lives of between 620,000-750,000 men and wounded many more.
The nation was still embroiled in this horrific war a year later when Lincoln issued his proclamation of America’s Thanksgiving holiday…
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.
Lincoln understood that our Thanks belong to God because He deserves it and not because of our circumstances. When the world seems treacherous and unwelcoming, it turns our eyes toward the kingdom. Our troubles here make our hearts yearn more for Heaven. The more unwelcoming the world becomes, the more we are prompted to look up.
Jesus made it clear that there is far more in store for us…
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
When Jesus gave this admonition to his disciples, he followed it immediately with the New Testament’s most imperative charge. “Stay dressed for action; keep your lamps burning… be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables, we're encouraged to be thankful for all of the earthly blessings He bestows on us here and to also look up -- to admire the treasuries of unspeakable wealth and glory that await us there.
There is no privilege or glory in all of Heaven that will be withheld from the bride of Christ. What an incentive to look up!
The world might seem to be getting colder and darker around us, but darkness draws our eyes to the light. Look to the light – depend upon it – yearn for it. We will soon hear the voice of the Bridegroom calling us home to a kingdom where there is no darkness at all!