President Abraham Lincoln signed a document in 1863, declaring a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” to fall on the last Thursday in November.
Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation came not at the victorious conclusion of the war, as might have been expected, but in the midst of its stormiest days, when the future of the country was far from certain. Likewise the holidays don’t always find us when we feel like celebrating. Sometimes we are in the middle of life’s biggest battles—illness, loneliness, grief, poverty, or depression might be pressing us hard.
But we can praise God just as sincerely in the middle of a hard-fought battle. Jesus often thanked His Father in the hour of need, before He performed a major miracle.
Ministry to prisoners, families, and all those affected by crime is rarely simple and often very difficult. But in the midst of the battle to bring hope and restoration to the lives of the broken, I give thanks to God that you are fighting alongside us for the cause of the Gospel. And together, we can already give thanks for the victory over sin Jesus purchased by His death and resurrection.
Every time I walk into a prison, meet a governor, speak in a church, or hug a prisoner’s child, I tell them how thankful I am for you. When I ask myself if there is hope for the incarcerated, I praise God that you are giving us the resources and energy to serve prisoners and their families. The battle might not be over, but victory is sure, and we get to usher it in together! And that’s a reason for thanksgiving indeed