Story Of Thanksgiving In The Bible

Thanksgiving Day is a major holiday celebrated in the United States, Canada, and other countries. The holiday traditionally begins with a feast, which usually includes a bird or bird-like object. Specifically, Thanksgiving dinners often include turkey as the center of the main meal, supplemented with stuffing or dressing (generally cornbread), mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce or various fruits.

Most people in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November. Its a holiday that has its roots deeply embedded in history and tradition. The menu for the day certainly has not changed since the first indian harvest way back in 1621. It includes turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie and stuffing, mashed potatos, green beans, corn etc. I wrote this essay about the history of thanksgiving and why we practice it today.

It took place on the autumnal equinox. Although historical evidence is lacking, it seems very likely that the first American Thanksgiving occurred in the autumn of 1621 at Plymouth Plantation. For the purposes of this discussion I will assume it did occur in 1621 as this is what has been widely taught over time.

The feast of thanksgiving is one of the most important feasts in the Christian year. It was established by Christ, to commemorate his first coming in the flesh, to redeem us on earth; and his second coming, to receive us to himself in heaven.

Story Of Thanksgiving In The Bible

With promises of really great deals on Black Friday littered between college football timeouts, the meaning of Thanksgiving sometimes gets missed. We pause to give thanks for the food, family members and friends gathered around the table in the midst of preparing elaborate meals and navigating family relations. But giving thanks isn’t a practice reserved for a single day each year. It has deeper spiritual significance and benefits that ring true long after the leftovers are consumed.

Gratitude is a heart tenderizer. It keeps our eyes focused on God, the source of all good gifts. It keeps our hearts open, and with open hearts, the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control—have ample room to grow.

Story Of Thanksgiving In The Bible

“Moses and Miriam 
One of the first places we see gratitude expressed in poetry and song is in Exodus.

After God miraculously delivered the children of Israel through the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army, Moses and Miriam break out in praise and worship in gratitude to God.

Read about it in Exodus 15.

Naaman and Elisha 
2 Kings 5 records the story of Naaman being healed of leprosy with the help of Elisha. 

Naaman was grateful to have been introduced to the God of heaven that he offered a gift to Elisha.

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant. 2 Kings 5:15

GET MORE INSPIRATION: 6 Meaningful lessons from the story of Naaman

King David’s dancing 
While David was king, the Ark of the Covenant had been stolen by the Philistines. This was bad business for Israel. 

But when the Ark was returned, David was overwhelmed with joy; he broke out in song and dance to celebrate, then he gave offerings in gratitude.

Read about it 2 Samuel 6.

Jehoshaphat 
When King Jehoshaphat found himself surrounded by three armies, he was distressed.

As Jehoshaphat went out to meet the armies he appointed men to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving.

Read about it 2 Chronicles 20.

Deborah’s song 
The Israelites were facing an army much larger and way more powerful than. But God gave them the victory.

Deborah immortalized it in a song of praise and thanksgiving.

Read Deborah’s song in Judges 5.

GET MORE ENCOURAGEMENT: Lessons from Deborah in the Bible: Characteristics and leadership qualities

Daniel‘s thanksgiving prayers
Daniel was serving in an influential government position when he faced some challenges. 

The first was when the king had a dream but couldn’t remember it. God gave Daniel the very same dream plus it’s interpretation.

The next time was when his fellow leaders planned to have charged with a crime and get his punishment of being thrown to the lions.

On both occasions, Daniel could be found praying prayers of thanksgiving to God.

Daniel 2 and 5 has those stories.

Jonah
Why try to run away from an all-knowing God?

Well, Jonah tried. 

But while he was in the belly of the fish, he prayed. And in that prayer there was a bit of thankfulness. 

What a place to express gratitude!

This is perhaps one of the funniest Bible stories about gratitude.”

In times of uncertainty, it may seem strange to turn to gratitude, but think about it: when else do we need to rely on God most except when faced with the unknown? Mary’s song, recorded after her encounter with her cousin Elizabeth, is a perfect example of the kind of praise we can give when the future looks uncertain. For being pregnant out of wedlock, Mary could have been shunned. Mary could have been cast out by her family. Mary could have been condemned to death. And yet Mary gives thanks for this new thing, this unexpected gift. You can read her song in Luke 1:46-55.

Mary’s Song
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Thanksgiving in Lament

Over and over again, the psalms show us what it means to be thankful, even in times of fear, sadness, and grief. Gratitude draws our eyes away from the pain, terror, and anxiety of loss and helps us focus on the gifts of this world, moving us forward along the healing process.

After he loses his family, his property, and his health, Job, the sufferer of sufferers, cries out, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21, NIV)

Psalms that demonstrate this include Psalm 22 (which is what Jesus quoted from the cross when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) and Psalm 69.

Psalm 22 starts in anguish and suffering, but takes a turn toward the end when David writes,
I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” 

Psalm 69:29-36 reads:
But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. The poor will see and be glad— you who seek God, may your hearts live! The LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them, for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it; the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there.”

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