Thanksgiving! The day we have all been waiting for. Turkey overload, tradition, family, friends, Football, and more food. It’s a time to reflect on how thankful we are for life’s blessings. As I am writing this blog, my son Evan is jumping on my neck and laughing. He is reminding me of how thankful I am for my beautiful family.
The Bible tells us we should have thankful hearts. Not just on a day of festivities, but all the time. And not just all the time, but in all circumstances. Yes, even difficult ones. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ.”
In 1620, a group of 102 people set sail for the New World. These passengers were citizens of England. They called themselves Separatists because they wanted to “separate” from the Church of England and be free to worship God the way they believed the Bible taught. These brave men and women, who we call Pilgrims today, risked everything to go to America.
Did you know the Pilgrims spent more than three harsh months at sea on the Mayflower ship? They arrived in America on December 21. According to William Bradford, one of the Pilgrim leaders, when they made it to shore safely, he wrote in his journal:
“They fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean.” -Bradford’s Journal
Although their journey had been difficult, the Pilgrims thanked God for watching over them as they crossed the vast Atlantic Ocean. They made it safely, but were soon to face the greatest trial yet.
It was in the dead of winter when they arrived in the new land. The first thing the settlers did was build a sanctuary where God could be honored and praised. Temporarily, the families had to live on the wet ship while the men attempted to build houses. Because there were no places to buy wood, tools, or food, they couldn’t provide a furnace for heat or grow food since the ground was frozen. Consequently, sickness came, but there were no doctors or hospitals to go to. By the end of the winter of that first year, almost half of the Pilgrims had died.
How would you feel if you were a Pilgrim? Would it be hard to be thankful to God in these circumstances? I imagine it would be. Nevertheless, God calls us to be thankful. Romans 8:28 tells us, “In all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
The Pilgrims never gave up. Even though half of their family died, they still prayed for God’s guidance and provision. One day in March, God answered their prayers. An Indian chief named Samoset walked into their church service and noticed their needs. He came back with an Indian helper named Squanto.
Squanto had been captured in the past by Spain explorers and sold as a slave. He escaped and fled to England where he learned English. Then he met a nice Englishmen who helped pay for his voyage back to America, his native land. Because of his good memories with the English people, he decided to help the Pilgrims. The two Indians taught them how to hunt deer, catch beavers, grow crop–especially corn. They also trained them how to tend the soil with proper nutrients in order to have the best crops.
The following fall, because their crops were successful, Governor Bradford declared a day of giving thanks to the Lord. He invited the Indians to join them at the feast. The Indians brought a dozen turkeys to eat and 5 deer. The Pilgrims shared all their fruits and vegetables. It was a wonderful day. This feast is still celebrated today. You know it as Thanksgiving!
I want to remind you, and myself of course, to be thankful in every circumstance. Why? Because God is orchestrating every event, both good and bad, to a purposeful end. In addition, thankfulness is an attribute we should strive to possess. May thankfulness mold into our personality. May it be a part of who we are. In the end, when we are thankful in all circumstances, it reflects the love and positive nature of God who will truly bring a peace the world is longing to see! Happy Thanksgiving.
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