Thanksgiving Day By George Stroh, Senior Pastor November 23, 2009
After much prayer and faithful reliance on Divine providence, the Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620. Contrary to the historical revisionists, most of the Pilgrims were devout puritan Christians. These followers of Jesus Christ risked everything, including their very lives, to find a new world where they might freely and openly worship God.
It was a very perilous and difficult journey. For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm-tossed sea. Suffering from starvation and sickness on their journey and a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring. Of the 102 pilgrims who set sail, only 52 ultimately survived to celebrate that first thanksgiving feast in the fall of 1621.
Only by God's amazing grace and His love could these surviving Pilgrims have remained faithful and thankful through those days of great suffering and personal loss; "Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 21). "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
Devoted to prayer and strong faith in God's goodness, they persevered and reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer. That fall those bereaved, but still thankful, Pilgrims join together with their Indian friends in a Thanksgiving celebration, a three-day feast to thank God and to celebrate His goodness. Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving in these words:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors... And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are far from want."
As believers, even when suffering, we can be thankful for the goodness of God, especially for forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul who also knew much suffering wrote; "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:18)
I hope this Thanksgiving Day and everyday finds you too thankful for the goodness of God. Thankful for all of His material providence bestowed on you this past year, but most thankful for the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus and "...the glory that is to be revealed to us."Happy Thanksgiving and Maranatha!