In my church tradition, the Old Testament reading appointed for the Day of National Thanksgiving is taken from chapter eight of the book of Deuteronomy. In this reading Moses talks about how God took care of his people for 40 years in the wilderness and is now bringing them into the Promised Land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, a land of wheat and barley of vines and fig trees. It would be a land where they would lack nothing.
Once they had eaten their full of the bounty of the Promised Land they were to bless the Lord for the good land he had given them. Since this is very similar to what the Pilgrims did when they arrived in America — they ate their fill of the bounty of this great land and then took time to give thanks — that is why this reading is chosen for the Day of National Thanksgiving.
But as we read on past the appointed reading, Moses warns the people, “Take care lest you forget the Lord God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, ESV)
How easy it is to forget the Lord when things go well. Of course this year things have not gone very well for our world due to the pandemic and many other significant challenges but we all have to admit we still have many blessings for which to be thankful to the Lord.
A little later Moses mentions something even worse than forgetting: “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18, ESV)
Our Day of National Thanksgiving is so important because giving thanks to God for all his blessings is a powerful way to remind ourselves that all our blessings come from him and not from our own efforts.
Yet even when we do forget to thank him, God never forgets us. Since his own dear son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross to forgive and redeem us God could never forget us. Praise the Lord!