I recently had a series of speaking engagements that were different but alike. All emphasized the importance of developing and maintaining a winning attitude while dealing with adversity. The first presentation was to a statewide university extension organization. The group had a conference theme of “Exploring The High C’s: Change, Communication, and esprit de Corps.” The three C’s were spotlighted while looking at three areas of concentration: family consumer sciences, youth development, and agriculture.
The second presentation was to a football team prior to a big game. The team had to contend with adverse weather conditions as well as with a higher ranked team. The next presentation was to a financial group. Survey results indicated the group was strong in the area of technical knowledge and ability but not as strong in the area of people knowledge and human relationships.
The fourth presentation was to a newspaper group that wanted to spotlight the good work of its people and emphasize that individual actions lead to group success in delivering a new product daily to its readers. The final presentation was to a church group. The emphasis here was that despite the challenges and bad things we experience in this world, God is ultimately in control and is a good God.
All of these engagements tie in beautifully with Thanksgiving and the reason behind the holiday’s existence. It is well documented that the 102 courageous people who departed England and set sail for a new world in 1620 experienced a disastrous first winter. By the next fall only half of them had survived. But these Pilgrims chose to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving and focus on God’s goodness rather than on life’s badness.
It is also well documented that Thanksgiving and the extravagant holiday season that follows is a hard time for many people who seek reasons to be thankful and celebrate. The writer of Psalm 46 realized this, penning the words, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the sea.”
The New Testament writer Paul echoed similar thoughts in II Corinthians 4:8, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit…”
Just as life had a way of taking its toll on people in the Old and New Testament times, and in 1620, it still does today. People struggle. People are disappointed. People get sick. People die. But for thousands of years, in the midst of change and challenge, people have sought and found a “very present help.” That is why various people have celebrated Thanksgiving in various ways. That is why George Washington issued a nationwide Thanksgiving Proclamation for America on October 3, 1789, containing, in part, these words:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to ‘recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:’ Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, Who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or will be…”
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 2500 events, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-436-7478. His books, including “A Strategy For Winning,” “People of Passion,” and “Are We Communicating Yet?” are available in stores, at www.carlmays.com, and on www.amazon.com.