It should be a priority that we express our gratitude to God for all that He has given us. In one of his sermons on Thankfulness, Miles Seaborn states “Ingratitude is as widespread as the human race and is as old as mankind.”
The concept of Thanksgiving involves being fully conscious that we have been blessed. We learn from the Bible that God always expects us to be grateful for our blessings. However, in today’s society, we are guilty of not expressing gratitude in a constant way.
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one leper came back and expressed his gratitude for being healed. All of the lepers knew the authority and deity of Christ and acknowledged that He was the one who healed them. However, only the one leper publicly thanked God for his healing in the true spirit of gratitude.
Many people look upon blessings as just coincidences. Those people do not see the power of Christ. However, many of those same people will also quickly blame God when anything negative happens in their lives. As Christians, we know that all blessings come from Christ but we need to remain steadfast in thanking Him.
A recent online visit and study of Massachusetts’ restored Plymouth village, by way of Google Earth and Search, brought God’s leading of pioneer men and women in past years into focus. A casual survey of the early events connected with the founding of Plymouth Colony discloses two seemingly unrelated elements prevalent among these stalwart settlers. One was an unrelenting wave of hardship, disappointment, privation, and persecution which consistently plagued them. The other was a spirit of praise and thanksgiving which permeated their lives in spite of outward adverse circumstances. One gets the impression that the more troubles these people had the more praise and gratitude they gave to God.
In spite of betrayal and ‘persecution in England; in spite of leaving homes and possessions behind when they fled; in spite of being forced to learn new trades; in spite of a forced landing on the cold forbidding coast of New England rather than the more accommodating climate near the mouth of the Hudson River; in spite of death claiming 44 of the 102 settlers before six months had passed—these people continually thanked God for the blessings they had. Their mature Christian experience helped them to sense the blessings attached to present, though calamitous, circumstances.
Consider their landing place. Because of storms which drove their tiny ship far north of their original goal, they landed at a spot where Indians formerly had lived and cultivated the land for years. Some unknown disease two years before had caused the entire tribe save one to die. This fact in itself is remarkable. Of the thousands of miles of primitive wilderness coast line where they could have landed, the Pilgrims cast anchor at a place where land had already been cleared and cultivated!
A second blessing came in the form of a mild winter for that region. The end of December on the Massachusetts coast line is not the best time to start building houses, but the winter weather of 1620 permitted building to go forward.
Another remarkable blessing was the friendship of certain Indians whose names, like Cyrus’, were known by God before birth. In the spring of 1621 an Indian named Samoset walked boldly into their settlement exclaiming in good English learned from British fishermen, “Welcome! Welcome!” The Pilgrims were naturally terrified. Samoset’s next visit proved to be a miracle blessing. He brought with him another Indian named Squanto. Some historians claim that Squanto was the only one left of the wiped-out tribe that had once lived at Plymouth. Furthermore, Squanto had been carried as a captive to England, where he learned a good amount of English. After his return he joined Massasoit’s tribe some thirty miles to the west. Squanto’s visit brought together Massasoit and Governor Carver which resulted in a solemn treaty that endured for more than fifty years. This treaty declared that Pilgrims and Indians should live as brothers, doing everything possible to aid one another.
Squanto along with Hobomack, another Indian, made his home with the colonists and practically saved them from destruction by acting as their guide and interpreter. He taught them how to plant corn with a shad “as soon as the oak leaves were as big as a mouse’s ear.”
Recapitulate a moment. A cultivated spot in the wilderness! One Indian survivor who had learned English as a captive in England joining the Pilgrims, bringing about a peace treaty, then teaching them how to live in a strange new land. I wonder how many times the Pilgrims praised God for His direct leading in small but extremely important details.
If the early colonists had counted only the hardships during that first year, a solemn funeral-type memorial meeting would have been held rather than a joyous thanksgiving service. Let’s join these pioneers with a spirit of Thankfulness! Yes we have difficult days ahead to fulfill God’s plan for us, But oh how God has blessed!
In Christian Love and With Many Prayers,