Crossing the Atlantic, most of the 102 passengers aboard the tiny Mayflower suffered severely from sea sickness. As they finally sighted Cape Cod on November 9, 1620 with only one death among them, they fell to their knees and thanked God who brought them “over the fast and furious ocean … and a sea of troubles.”
The storm-tossed waters prevented them from sailing south to the Virginian colony, their intended destination. Yet they believed God in his wisdom had directed them to the place they must now prepare from scratch to make it, for winter was already upon them. Having arrived with little food, they sent out scouting parties who found baskets of grain and a good place farther north where hey could build a permanent community.
They struggled through that first winter with inadequate clothing and blankets, hardly seven of them well at one time. By the end of March, half had died of pneumonia. Yet not one among the living boarded the Mayflower for the return trip to England that Spring.
Squanto arrived and made his home with them. An Indian who spoke English, he taught those city folk how to plant corn, fish the river, and hunt turkey and deer in he forest. He also helped them forge a lasting peace with Indians living in the area.
By Fall, the grateful band of devout Christians recovered their health and had enough food to see them through the coming winter. Inviting their Indian friends to join them, they held a three-day feast to thank God for his goodness–a practice they continued year after year. Eventually, some of their descendants settled elsewhere, taking with them their annual thanksgiving-to-God feast.
Then in 1863, President Lincoln declared the occasion a national holiday. But it all began with a small group of Christians who made it a habit to thank God no matter what.
Did they face danger, illness, lack, or loss? They thanked God. Were they blessed with safety, unexpected help, a new home, enough food? They thanked God. These people chose to obey God’s Word about giving thanks.
Focus: “In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:18, The Living Bible.
How about you? For what are you especially thankful to God this year?