It has been my custom over the past few years during the week of Thanksgiving to post one of the Presidential Decrees of Thanksgiving in order to be reminded of our blessings as a nation, and of our constant need to turn to God in praise and thanksgiving.
This year, as we approach Thanksgiving in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I know many of us will have to celebrate differently than we have in the past. Many families cannot come together because of travel restrictions and concerns for spreading the virus. Some live in places where gatherings or more than 2 households are prohibited. Even if you celebrate in a normal fashion, there is a cloud hanging over our heads that is unavoidable.
This year I thought I’d take a slightly different approach at Thanksgiving, and post a Presidential call for Prayer. COVID isn’t the first pandemic to hit our nation. Recently, we’ve seen the H5N1 (Avian Flu) and H1N1 Flu viruses. In 1918 there was the Spanish Flu.
But even before that, in the 1830-40’s, the world was gripped with a Cholera Pandemic. Originating in polluted water sources in India, Cholera moved through Africa, Asia, and Europe, before finally coming to the US. In Russia alone, cholera killed over one million people, including the famous composer, Tchaikovsky. Over 20 years, more than 200,000 Americans died of Cholera.
On July 3, 1849, President Zachary Taylor proclaimed a National Day of Fasting and Prayer, writing:
At a season when the providence of God has manifested itself in the visitation of a fearful pestilence which is spreading itself throughout the land, it is fitting that a people whose reliance has ever been in His protection should humble themselves before His throne, and, while acknowledging past transgressions, ask a continuance of Divine mercy.
It is therefore earnestly recommended that the first Friday in August be observed throughout the United States as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer. All business will be suspended in the various branches of the public service on that day; and it is recommended to persons of all religious denominations to abstain as far as practicable from secular occupation and to assemble in their respective places of public worship, to acknowledge the Infinite Goodness which has watched over our existence as a nation, and so long crowned us with manifold blessings, and to implore the Almighty, in His own good time to stay the destroying hand which is now lifted up against us.
(Source: Benjamin Franklin Morris, Christian Life And Character Of The Civil Institutions Of The United States, from Internet Archive)
As we gather this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, may we recall before God all for which we have to be grateful. We praise God for His providential care, for the blessings that He has bestowed upon His creation, the mercies of God which are new every morning, and the love that He has lavished upon those He has redeemed in Christ Jesus. May we speak of His glory, His grace, His wisdom, and His faithfulness toward us. And may we humbly, reverently, and passionately plea for God’s hand to stay the destruction of this virus which is now upon us.