America's Thanksgiving Day has some deep roots! This annual token day of giving thanks to God actually began in 1621 with our nation's Founding Father's celebrating, feasting and praying with gratitude in their hearts! These pilgrims were grateful for their freedom to worship God according to their faith! Later, in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared that every 4th Thursday in November would be a national holiday of THANKSGIVING!
How precious is this freedom, that we Christians enjoy in American to this very day! Like those who came before us, we too must show deep gratitude for our freedom to worship God! It is a pure pleasure to joyfully celebrate in the circumstances that God has afforded us in this great nation! Of course the giving of thanks is not limited to this day! This is a token day to express our gratitude, so that we may thank and praise God every day and never forget all of His abundant blessings Ps.103. But Paul, in 1Thes.5:16-18 would have us to understand, that Christians should be joyful, prayerful and thankful in ALL circumstances, regardless of where we happen to live, "because THIS is God's will for our lives."
"Be joyful always... this is God's will" Of course is easy to rejoice when things are going well! But Jesus said that His followers are to rejoice even when we suffer persecution. We can truly rejoice because He assures us that our names are written in Heaven Lk,10:20 and our reward is secure there Matt.5:12. Remember that the Kingdom of God is rejoicing in the Holy Spirit Rom.14:17!
"Pray continually... this is God's will"
In Lk.18:1 Jesus also taught that the secret to continual joy is continual prayer. Paul says that we must pray as we engage the battle against cosmic evil enemies Eph.6:18. Peter said that we should be watchful in prayer because the end is near 1Pet.4:7.
"Give thanks in all circumstances... this is God's will"
As we can see, joy prayer and thanksgiving are all inseparably linked together Phil.4:16. The Spirit of thanksgiving should permeate the whole church as we sing to each other Eph.5:20. Christians who trustingly develop a sense to view life from God's perspective, can truly thank Him in every circumstance, even in our hardships. This ability comes from the knowledge and wisdom that God has given us, in the assurance that He is working everything together for good Rom.8:28. God promises us that all our pain is temporary and will ultimately result in our eternal glory when Jesus Christ returns 1Pet.1:3-7.