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Thankfulness Equals Forgiveness

National American Indian Heritage Month poster

National American Indian Heritage Month poster

PHOENIX -- November is a time to give thanks, reflect on our Native American heritage, and to honor our nation's veterans.

Is it ironic that we observe the Native American Heritage, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving Day all in the same month?  Maybe it is simply a way to remind us, no matter the struggle or battle, hearts can be mended through a spirit of forgiveness.

As a nation, we have acknowledged the historical wrongs inflicted on the Native American culture, accepted responsibility, and have become thankful for the important lessons learned from the past. Sometimes, it is hard to be thankful when someone does something wrong to us, unless we use God's mercy as a vehicle to provide us with the ability to forgive.

What if we looked at why God has allowed us to be thankful before we forgive?  How do we celebrate our veterans before first honoring those who first lived in America?  How do we give thanks during the traditional Thanksgiving holiday without first asking God to forgive us our debts?  Does God understand that we make mistakes and look for a clearer understanding of how we are to make things right with those we have harmed unjustly? 

We all remember the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his ten older brothers; gaining favor from Egypt's Pharaoh; and eventually saving a nation. (Read Genesis chapters 37-50)  Jealousy and deception filled the hearts of Joseph's brothers, even to the point of wanting to kill him.  In spite of the evil actions towards Joseph, he advanced in the ranks to second in command of the most powerful nation on Earth - forgave his brothers and gave them gifts of clothes and silver.

God's sovereignty always grants restitution from past to present generations. The battles between Native Americans and early settlers substantiate reasons to be thankful for new laws of protection today. The Native American Apology Resolution of 2009 "apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native peoples" for instances of maltreatment and neglect and resounds a clear lesson in forgiveness.

The Holy Scriptures in Matthew 6:15 reads, "Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you." And, also in Isaiah 51:3 "And the Lord will bless Israel again, and make her deserts blossom; her barren wilderness will become as beautiful as the Garden of Eden, joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and lovely songs." 

Our nation was built on the faith of our forefathers, and it is no coincidence that we should be reminded of our nation's struggles, and the courage and commitment of all veterans as we celebrate a day to be thankful for the many blessings of God.  Have a happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

For more information about the National Native American Heritage Month, please go to www.ncai.org or http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/.