What are the chances that 102 pilgrims sailing from Plymouth, England in 1620 would encounter two English speaking Indians on the North American continent? These Indians became instrumental in the pilgrims’ survival? Was God looking out for the pilgrims?
Apparently the pilgrims thought so in their actions and prayers. Elder William Brewster quoted from Isaiah 41:9-10 in encouraging them to persevere during their first harsh winter that saw 47 of their party die.
“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I call you. I said, ‘You are my servant;’ I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
These two Indians, one named Samoset, the other Squanto, helped the pilgrims learn how to plant corn, catch fish, and trade with friendly Indian tribes. During the summer of 1621, after building new dwellings, planting and harvesting enough food to get them through the next winter, the pilgrims were “brimming over with gratitude” and Governor Bradford declared a day of public Thanksgiving in October. (For more detail, see The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.)
As our national day of Thanksgiving approaches this week, I pause to reflect on a long list of blessings:
- A loving wife of 51 years and a mutual love that grows deeper each year,
- A family of five children, three sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, and 13 grandchildren, all of whom have a genuine love for one another and are living out their Christian faith in the day to day throes of life,
- An adult daughter with special needs whose purity of heart and humble ways show the rest of us the face of God,
- A Father God and his son Jesus Christ who love me and offer to dwell in me through the Holy Spirit, who give me purpose in loving and serving the people in my life and in working to take care of God’s creation according to my circumstances,
- Christian friends from the People of Praise Christian community, Christians in Commerce, St. Mark’s Catholic Church and my neighborhood who would take a call at 3:00 AM if the need arose.
- Meaningful work in business and ministry spanning over 50 years,
- Good health that allows me to continue to work, serve, love and enjoy all of these blessings,
- Material blessings that meet our needs.
This list does not mean we are exempt from trials and challenges, for who can escape them in this world. But we share the God of the Jews and the pilgrims who calls us, strengthens us, and upholds us with his righteous right hand.
What are you thankful for?