Evangelical Christian pastors and ministry leaders are expressing gratitude to God on Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and encouraging Christians to be grateful always, even when things aren't going their way.
Some pointed to the history of the Pilgrims and the some of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the nation, while others noted that multitudes around the world are in need of Christian generosity.
On the following pages are the Thanksgiving messages of six notable pastors or Christian organization leaders.
1. Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham, who is the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and of Samaritan's Purse, said in a Facebook video that he is thankful for "my wife, my children, my grandchildren ... but more importantly, I am thankful to God."
Graham, the son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, focused his message on what Christ did 2,000 years ago when He was nailed to the cross to pay for the sins of the world.
"Jesus Christ took our sins," Graham said, adding that God "poured upon him the sins of mankind," but then brought Him back to life.
"Jesus is alive, He will come into your life, and God will forgive your sins," the evangelist stressed, pointing to the "opportunity to be with Him in Heaven for eternity" for those who believe.
In the written portion of his post, Graham added that Thanksgiving "should be a reminder to us to tell God how grateful we are for His many gifts and all He has done for us. The Bible says 'in everything give thanks...'(1 Thessalonians 5:18)."
2. Kevin DeYoung
Reformed theologian Kevin DeYoung wrote in a blog post for The Gospel Coalition that those with the highest virtues know how to give thanks.
"Think of the godliest people you know, the saints you most respect, the ones you want to be like when you grow up, the believers you want to emulate and imitate," DeYoung stated.
"Almost certainly, the people you are thinking of are thankful people. Cynics and critics may be celebrated on social media and on late-night television, but they do not make great heroes of the faith."
The senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in North Carolina reminded Christians of the story of Paul in the New Testament and the severe hardships he faced.
"Paul did not have an easy life. He was beaten, slandered, misunderstood, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned, and opposed by someone almost everywhere he went. Nevertheless, he was profoundly grateful. Being grateful has little to do with your circumstances," he noted.
"Sure, it's easier to be happy when everything is coming up roses, but we've all known people who seem to have everything, and yet are terrifically unhappy. Conversely, we all know people who seem to find hidden blessings in every trial. Grumbler or thanks-giver: we really do have a choice."
3. Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, focused his Thanksgiving thoughts on recalling the history of some of the first celebrants of the holiday in the nation.
"You've no doubt read or heard about the Pilgrims and the challenges they faced as they came to America. They came here risking all, not for the freedom of worship, but for the freedom of religion: the freedom to believe, live their lives, and teach their children according to those beliefs," Perkins reminded readers.
"What the record shows is that their gratitude was a choice in their circumstance, not a product of their circumstance. As a result of that choice to be grateful, they laid the foundation for the world's most prosperous and blessed nation."
Perkins also pointed to Paul's preaching on gratitude in the Bible.
"The Apostle Paul provides the key to this continual feast of thanksgiving in his letter to the Thessalonians, which he wrote from prison, instructing them to 'Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,'" he said.
4. Jack Graham
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas, expressed his thanks in a prayer directly to God, but also spoke about some of the nation's failings.
"We are so thankful for our nation, our nation's founding and the way You have blessed our land with bounty and beauty. We're so thankful since our nation's founding that You have blessed us with liberty and freedom," Graham wrote.
"But today, we ask for Your forgiveness because we have taken Your blessings and we have abused them in many ways. You have blessed us with abundant blessings, and we have turned from You; and so we return to You in repentance and faith."
The Prestonwood Baptist Church pastor continued:
"We pray, oh God, that You would heal our land and heal our hearts; and Lord that You would bless our families and fill our churches. We pray that You would send revival to our nation and to our churches, and that we would live for Your glory, each one of us, until You come again."
5. Vernon Brewer
Vernon Brewer, founder and president of Christian humanitarian organization World Help, urged Americans to think about all the people around the world in need of assistance on Thanksgiving.
"Thanksgiving is about acknowledging that everything good comes from a generous and loving God, whose plan is to bless us so we might be a blessing to others," Brewer wrote.
"My prayer this Thanksgiving is that we will make room at the table for those who are not as fortunate as we are. Let's do more than count our blessings — let's actually bless someone like we've been blessed."
World Help recently launched its holiday gifts catalog for people who want to provide humanitarian gifts, including emergency aid and relief in countries of need.
6. Greg Laurie
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, California, reminded believers that the Bible says "give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever."
"It doesn't say 'Give thanks to the Lord when you feel good,' because we don't always feel good, do we? In fact, if you ate too much for Thanksgiving meal, you're not feeling all that great right now, are you?" Laurie positioned.
"No, give thanks to the Lord for He is good," the pastor continued, as he listed four main reasons why the faithful should give thanks.
"Number one, if you're a Christian, Christ lives inside of you. Number two, if you're a Christian, you're going to Heaven," he said. "Three — if you're a Christian, God is in control of your life, no matter what you're facing."
"And lastly, if you're a Christian, He's blessed you with so many things," Laurie concluded.
"So enjoy this day, and remember to give thanks to the One that gave it all to you. Happy Thanksgiving."