2016 | Week of November 21 | #1178
During this week of Thanksgiving, I like to think Americans really will be expressing their gratitude to God for many things: families, homes, safety, jobs, health, churches, friends, food, freedom, opportunities and much more. Gratitude is always appropriate and following in the ways of the earliest settlers of this country and having a national Day of Thanksgiving is most appropriate. I wonder, however, if many of us will think this week to be grateful for the government we have in America.
Yes, that’s what I said. Are you grateful for the government we have in America?
George Washington was mindful of the blessings that America’s Constitution provided in the form of our government. His first official proclamation as president of the United States designated November 26, 1789, as a day of Thanksgiving. In that proclamation, Washington thanked God for protecting the American people before they became a nation, for providentially aiding them in their struggle for independence.
In addition, in this proclamation written just a little over a year after the Constitution giving us a Republic had been ratified and implemented, Washington expressed national gratitude “for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge, and in general for all the great and various favors which [God] hath pleased to confer upon us.”
Washington understood what a blessing we had been given in this form of government. We should too, especially when we consider the alternatives, such as a dictatorship or an oligarchy or a democracy.
Six years later, in February 1795, Washington proclaimed another day of thanksgiving to God. In that proclamation, Washington again thanked God “particularly for the possession of constitutions of government which unite and by their union establish liberty with order…” He asked God “to preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity…to extend among us true and useful knowledge; to diffuse and establish habits of sobriety, order, morality, and piety, and finally, to impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind.”
Washington understood that America’s form of government is unique, that it was and is a gift from God and being thankful for it needed to be the order of his day—and should continue to be in our day.
We have just come through an election unlike any we have ever seen before. We are now witnessing protests and riots in the aftermath. The results of the election have brought changes in both Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. We aren’t completely sure what those changes will bring in the months ahead. However, as we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we would do well to reflect on George Washington’s appreciation for the form of government we enjoy.
The American people have added several amendments to the Constitution since Washington’s day. And, there have been a number of Supreme Court decisions that have violated the constitution. Yet we can be thankful we still have the freedom to choose our elected representatives, we still have a relatively smooth and coup-free transfer of power from individuals and parties, we still enjoy greater liberty than virtually any other nation, we continue to have the freedom to disagree with our government without fear of imprisonment, and we still have much religious freedom.
Certainly there are problems in our government—scandals, corruption, a lack of vision, a calculating politics-as-usual attitude, attacks on our Constitutional freedoms and even on our God-given—those unalienable—rights. Perhaps we here in America and Wisconsin suffer from “the arrogance of prosperity” that Washington saw over 200 years ago. Nevertheless, even in this we can be thankful—thankful that God has put us here, in Wisconsin, at this time in history, to stand in the gap for our country and our state, to be salt and light in our communities and to show a dark and weary world the way.
Giving thanks for our Republic definitely isn’t out of line. If it’s true that what we aren’t thankful for we begin to ignore and even abuse, then we should definitely heed Washington’s example and express our thankfulness to God this week for the type of government with which He has blessed America while we purpose in our hearts to do what we can to safeguard this blessing.
For Wisconsin Family Council this is Julaine Appling reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”