If you're just popping in on this November series, you can catch up here.
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Today is a day set aside by Americans to feast and give thanks. I love reading books with my kids during this season about how God used Squanto's difficult life and his sorrows to prepare him to save the Pilgrims of Plymouth, and then other stories about the persistent efforts of Sarah Hale to see Thanksgiving become a national holiday - persistence finally rewarded by President Abraham Lincoln at a time in history when America needed something to draw her together. History reveals much about our God and His hand in the lives of individuals, groups, and nations.
The Pilgrims were grateful to be alive, to have a place they could worship freely, and for an abundant harvest in the new land, (among other things, I'm sure). What do you give thanks for today?
I wonder at the Pilgrims. So many died during the first terrible winter in Plymouth. Yet when the boat returned to England for more supplies, they stayed. They worked; they planted; they cultivated; they weeded; they watered. Then, they harvested. They harvested! Maybe sometimes they got discouraged, wanted to go home, missed the comforts of the old world, or doubted that they were following God's will for them. They kept going, though. On Sundays they met for worship. Monday through Saturday they labored, driven by necessity, but also by the desire to build a new life.
They left the old for the new. Hm, that's kind of what we've been talking about around Life in the Valley this month.
They knew the God of the Scriptures and wanted to live to serve Him only. Their desire was so strong they were willing to move to new lands (they tried Holland first) and risk their lives for that freedom. Will we too set aside the comforts of this world to follow in their footsteps, to follow Christ? Having been saved, will we press on in the holy life to which God has called us?
If we belong to the Lord, we have so much for which to be thankful, whether or not we are surrounded by comforts and can buy everything our heart desires at the Black Friday sales! I was just taking a quick look at Psalms that talk about giving thanks to God and I'm impressed by Psalm 107. It begins like this:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Then it has many sections about different types of people in different, but equally desperate, situations and how God turned their lives around, giving them cause to give thanks. The stanzas begin, Some ...
- Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding now way to a city where they could settle.
- Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains.
- Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
- Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
People, in different circumstances, led, rescued, redeemed, and saved by Almighty God. The psalmist tells them to tell their stories and to give thanks. For it is God who is good and whose love endures forever.
Thanksgiving is a great day to tell our stories of God's goodness to us in things material and spiritual! But really, dear Christian, EVERY DAY is a great day to speak of the wondrous love of God, to remember the history we have with Him, to feel thanksgiving swell in our hearts as we reflect on who God is and all he has done for us. You may find yourself in less than desirable circumstances at the moment and quite resistant to giving thanks. I understand; we're all there at times. I'm guessing Richard Foster would say this, We learn to give thanks by giving thanks. Today is a great day to get started.
I know that as we practice this discipline of thanks giving, a great harvest of gratitude will come.
Have a wonderful holiday!