If there were ever a time to count our blessings, it must be now during this year of extraordinary financial uncertainty and subsequent fear. American history shows that the first official day of Thanksgiving as a new nation followed the Revolutionary War in 1789 as President Washington responded to the request of Congress.

It asked him 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 signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

In response, he assigned “Thursday the 26th day of November … 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 that will be.”

Along with giving thanks, he suggested that we “beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed …”

Although its national celebration became sporadic, President Lincoln renewed the practice in 1863 “in the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity ...” giving thanks for peace with all other nations, a steady increase in national population and economic progress in spite of the war effort. Since 1863 we have continuously practiced a day of giving thanks to God, making it our own truly unique celebration in the world.

Last Thursday morning at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast of Independence, speaker Gracia Burnham helped to put our current national climate in proper perspective. While we fear for our disappearing investments, at least 25,000 children in the world die each day of starvation. The government of Sudan continues to promote the active killing and starvation of its Christian minority population. We are each part of God’s plan to solve these intractable problems, she urged.

She now rejoices that eight of 23 of her kidnapper group now imprisoned in the Philippines are engaged in weekly Bible studies, translations of which she has participated in. Apart from the grace of God, how can one explain that forgiveness and love?

With this in mind, I would like to share a few of the matters for which I am most grateful:

• 90-plus percent of adult Americans are working currently.

• Each one freely pursues his own field of employment.

• Grocery shelves overflow with foods of every type and brand.

• By our charity and taxes, we provide for the less fortunate.

• The very risk of investment creates opportunity rewarding initiative and creativity.

• Of fear and uncertainty, this too shall pass.