Thanksgiving: A Season of Persistence

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:12-14

Here is a part of the Thanksgiving story you may not know. While the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in October of 1621, it was not until October of 1777 that all 13 colonies celebrated Thanksgiving, for the first time. At one point, our first president, George Washington, proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving, but conflict and difficulties among the colonies put an end to its observance.

It was a magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, whose work led to the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday we observe today. Hale wrote letters to governors and presidents and editorials in magazines, books and newspapers, promoting the observance of Thanksgiving. In 1863, after 40 years of letter-writing and campaigning (that’s not a typo, she really wrote letters for 40 years), Hale’s persistence paid off and President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving. Since then, every president has supported Thanksgiving. Forty years of dedication, persistence and passion, all to make sure that this country would celebrate a National Day of Thanksgiving each year. Impressive.

We can learn from Hale’s perseverance. It took her 40 years to accomplish what she set out to do. Just like her story, the Christian faith is often described as a marathon, not a sprint. Each day of our life is another day to choose between right and wrong, to help someone in need, to read our Bible and pray. As Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:12-14, Christians are called to persevere, to press on. Sometimes it can feel like an unrewarding task. It is hard, but important, to look to God for the BIGGER plan. What if Hale had chosen to give up after one year or ten years? Her goal would have been left unfinished. Press on towards the call of Christ! Endure! But be forewarned, just like Sara Josepha Hale, it may take 40 years to see the fruit of your labor!

GOING DEEPER:
1. What are some areas in your life that require perseverance?

2. Why is it important we don’t base our faith on feelings?

FURTHER READING:
Deuteronomy 29:2-6; Matthew 4:1-11; James 1:2-8; 2 Peter 1:3-11

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Kelly McFadden

Kelly McFadden is a wife and mother and is part of the HomeWord daily devotional writing team. Kelly graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2000 with a degree in journalism. Following a season of playing professional volleyball and training with the US National team, Kelly returned to school and received her Masters in Christian Education from Azusa Pacific University.

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