By John Sykes
As always, history often gives us the best solace & guidance. Who better to look to than Abraham Lincoln?
From the Family Research Council:
We are troubled over the divisions in our nation, some powerfully advocate things that Scripture condemns and we may have to face some difficult times ahead if we cannot turn the tide. God still rules, and He will accomplish His will among us.
In 1863, just months after Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the outcome of the war was still uncertain, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation calling for "a day of Thanksgiving and Praise" to be observed on the last Thursday of November. We can learn much from the gratitude they offered God in that terrible hour of America's history.
"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity... Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding...the siege and the battle-field... No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States...to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union" (Roy P. Basler, Jr., ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 6: pp496-97, Dr. Kenyn Cureton, Lost Episodes, November 24, 2011).