Individually and nationally we face challenging economic times, requiring the intervention of God’s wisdom. These are days that cause sleeplessness and anxiety. But God says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you . . . ” (Isa. 41:10 NKJV). God also tells us in Joel 2:21, “Fear not, O Land; Be glad and rejoice, For the Lord has done marvelous things!”
The tendency in trials is to focus on what we’ve lost rather than the blessings we’ve gained. As we approach Thanksgiving, let me give you something to think about. If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks? Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621. They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, a trip so hazardous that published reports advised travelers to the “New World” to “First, make thy will.” The journey was difficult and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled thirteen years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home, Plymouth they called it, winter had arrived.
The storms were horrible, shelter was rough, there wasn’t much food, and within weeks nearly all the settlers were sick. “That which was most sad and lamentable,” Governor William Bradford later recalled, “was that in two or three months time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases . . . There died sometimes two or three a day.”
When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops weren’t very good. Supplies ran out, and their sponsors in England refused to send more. Times were difficult.
If you had been there in 1621, if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy, would you have felt grateful? As Christians, we are to be people of gratitude. Like those early pilgrims, we too must be thankful to God for His blessings. When our focus is on the here and now, rather than the hereafter, we are guilty of walking by sight. God clearly tells us that we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). An act of faith living is to be grateful when circumstances don’t warrant it. As Joel tells us, “Be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things.” God’s Word is true, He is on His throne, and one day Jesus will return. When we finally reach heaven, we will wonder why we cared so much about stuff that doesn’t reach into eternity.
Janice and I wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving, and thank the Lord for His wonderful goodness to us. I’ll see you Sunday with a smile on my face.