It is again Thanksgiving Day. I am old enough to remember when Americans actually took this day seriously and gave thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day for our many national blessings. This post is written with a heavy heart as the current national attitude toward Thanksgiving Day typifies how far our nation has fallen in its attitude toward God and how cavalierly we now regard our national blessings.
This link contains a “Proclamations of Thanksgiving” which was authored by President Abraham Lincoln during the great national trauma of the American Civil War. His proclamation acknowledged that it was “the duty of nations…to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God,” and he wondered openly if the Civil War was a “punishment inflicted upon [the nation] for our presumptuous sins.” Lincoln acknowledged that Americans “have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven” and that “we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.” Speaking for the nation, Lincoln lamented that “we have forgotten God” and that we were “too proud to pray to the God who made us.” If Americans of Lincoln’s time had “forgotten God” as the source of our national blessings, Americans in 2007 have largely forgotten God altogether.
The Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock proclaimed their thanksgiving to God and President George Washington issued thanksgivings for God’s grace on our early nation. President Lincoln was very mindful of the need for national thanksgiving to God for our blessings. While there are still a few Americans who still seriously give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day, the day has become mostly a secular “speed bump” between an ever-more commercialized “Halloween Day” and the unbelievably commercialized “Christmas Shopping Season.” Thanksgiving Day is increasingly downgraded to “Turkey Day” as Americans devour massive quantities of food while watching football games on TV. Many Americans also spend the day “devouring” the endless advertising supplements enclosed with the Thanksgiving Day newspapers that whet people’s appetites for “Black Friday,” when throngs of people herd into the malls to “shop till they drop” …on borrowed money via credit cards.
I realized how far our nation has fallen from the original concept of “giving thanks” to our Creator in a media article today. Today’s issue of USA Today had an article entitled “Why give thanks when you can shop?” (page 1B). The article indicated that although the stores are closed on Thanksgiving, people could still spend the day shopping on-line instead of, as the headline put it, “giving thanks.” Realizing that there really is a Creator who has blessed our nation with wealth and favor other nations can only dream about, this headline gives me the chills. In II Thessalonians 2:3, the Apostle Paul wrote that there would be a great “falling away” before the “Day of Jesus Christ” comes at the end of our age. By most reports, Christianity in Europe is all but dead, and it is slowly dying in America as our people have been duped into believing in the new evolutionary god of “natural selection” who, of course, will never judge us or hold us accountable for any personal or national sins.
The Creator who has blessed our nation so much surely sees that Americans now not only take our national blessings for granted, but we also deny that God even exists in our classrooms, our institutions and our halls of government. Proverbs 14:9 says “fools make a mock at sin,” but our national entertainment and media programming and advertisements increasingly promote sinful attitudes of lust and greed. Galatians 6:7 states “God will not be mocked.” God is patient for a time with the sins of individuals or nations. Because God is eternal, holding his anger back for a few decades or centuries is comparable to a human parent holding back from punishing a rebellious child for a few minutes or hours. Modern mankind has foolishly thought that God’s patient extension of grace in the face of our provocations was “proof” that God didn’t exist at all. God is being increasingly “mocked” in America’s laws and culture. We’ve made a national farce out of what used to be “Thanksgiving Day.”
America is now being weakened by two unending wars in Asia. Our military is being exhausted by far too many combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The public and private sector have both spent far beyond our means for decades. Most Americans must think Congress has a forest of money trees as it inflates the national debt beyond anyone’s capacity to understand or measure it. However, the falling dollar and weakening US economy indicate that other nations are now beginning to understand that the USA has no intention of ever paying back the outrageous sums we have borrowed from the rest of the world to fund our orgy of mindless consumerism. The economy of the USA would have collapsed long ago from our economic sins if it were not for the fact the US dollar is the world’s reserve currency. Media articles indicate that other nations are considering abandoning this traditional status for the US dollar. If that happens, Americans will learn a very harsh lesson that “borrowers are servants to their lenders” (Proverbs 22:7).
God may divinely intervene to punish our nation for its sins to bring us to our senses. Or he may do something much worse. He may simply abandon us to the national traumas that we are bringing upon ourselves. He may be giving us enough rope to hang ourselves. God’s patience can run out. Consider these words of Proverbs 1:24-31:
“Because I have called and you refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded;
but you have set at naught all my counsel, and would [have] none of my reproof:
I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes…
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer…
for they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord….
Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way…”
Maybe this Thanksgiving Day we should give thanks to God that he hasn’t already “lowered the boom” on America for our national sins and attitudes of mocking him. Maybe on some future Thanksgiving Day, Americans will give thanks not for what they then have, but for what they used to have before God took away many of our national blessings. Perhaps then Americans will return to God as prodigal sons and daughters seeking his favor and mercy once again. As the parable of the Prodigal Son aptly demonstrates, sometimes people (or nations) must squander and lose their blessings before they really appreciate them. Thankfully, that same parable reveals God mercifully receives the prodigal sinners (and nations) who come to their senses and return to him. However, many prodigal sons and daughters never do come to their senses.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2007, the United States of America stands in need of some serious self-examination about its national spiritual condition.