When the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620, after enduring a difficult trans-Atlantic voyage, they couldn’t have imagined what hardships still laid ahead. Almost half of the colonists died in the first year, and those who survived faced horrible disease and extreme weather. But by November 1621, William Bradford declared a Harvest Feast to give thanks to God and celebrate all that he had done for them.
But what did these Pilgrims have to give thanks for? Starvation, death and disease? That doesn’t sound like God’s providence to me. But William Bradford saw things differently. He put his faith in God, knowing that only by trusting in him would the Pilgrims be saved. Over that next year, Bradford’s faith was rewarded.
It happened that a native American named Squanto lived nearby. Squanto, having been captured by an English adventurer and sold into slavery in Spain, spoke English. It was through his help that the Pilgrims were able to plant crops in a way that was suited for the climate of the New World and also forge a lasting peace with the neighboring Wampanoag tribe.
Even in our most difficult trials and tribulations, we know that Christ is with us. He has promised to work all things together for good. We see that in this story. Out of all the inlets and bays in the east coast of America, the Pilgrims chose the one where a Native American already spoke their language. It was through this relationship between William Bradford and Squanto that God brought healing to this group. God is always working, even through our pain, actively redeeming our hurt to bring us closer to him. When we choose to follow Christ, we can trust that he will bring us through the darkness and into a new life in him.
This Thanksgiving, as we remember the Pilgrims who gathered so long ago, let’s not forget that Thanksgiving not only offers us a chance to give thanks to the Lord for his blessings, but also it’s a chance to renew our faith in him — and that opportunity is something to be truly grateful for.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.