Summary: I am concerned that our Thanksgiving celebrations might cause us to focus more on the things that we have, than the God who gave them to us.
Thanksgiving is approaching. Have you considered how privileged we are here in America?
Statistically, 3,000 Calories are consumed by the average person at Thanksgiving dinner. 45 Million turkeys will be eaten this Thanksgiving. 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten at Thanksgiving, 40 million green bean casseroles are made. And 72 million of cans of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce purchased each year.
The one statistic that causes me concern is the 3,000 calories! There goes my diet! But let’s consider the first Thanksgiving in America. It was in the fall of 1621, one year after the Pilgrim’s landed. There was great affliction in their voyage. 102 Pilgrims the left Holland, stopped briefly in England before sailing to America. They were at sea for 66 days. There were fierce Atlantic storms, so severe that at the half-way point, the sailors debated whether or not to turn back to England. Their accommodations were very limited, with all 102 Pilgrims below deck in the ship’s hold which was smaller than a Volleyball court! With the hatches closed to keep out the beating ocean, the air grew Foul, making their sea-sick condition even worse. There were no fires, and little water. Two Pilgrims did not survive the journey, and two were born during the journey.
When they landed in Massachusetts, they had no place to go. There were no villages. No stores. Noone to welcome them. No way to restock their ship. They lived on and off the ship, surviving basically on the ships provision through the first winter. They built one make-shift building, and lived in fear of the Natives who were not known. They were supposed to land somewhere north of current NYC on the Hudson river, but strong winds kept them from getting there. 47 of the 102 pilgrims died during the first winter! Govenor William Bradford wrote concerning their faith, “God gave them health and strength in a good measure; and shewed them by experience ye truth of yt word, Deut. 8. 3. Yt man liveth not by bread only, but by every word yt proceedeth out of ye mouth of ye Lord doth a man live. Bradford, William (2011-03-17). Bradford’s History of ’Plimoth Plantation’ From the Original Manuscript. With a Report of the Proceedings Incident to the Return of the Manuscript to Massachusetts (p. 133). Kindle Edition.
The Pilgrims encountered an Indian named Samoset. He spoke broken English, and led them to another Indian named Squanto, whose English was better. Squanto was from the militaristic Patuxet tribe. He had been captured and taken into slavery. He was Purchased by 2 priests who granted him his freedom, and secured passage back to America, only to find that his tribe had been killed. Had his tribe still been alive, they would have certainly killed the Pilgrims when they landed. Further, the fields they left behind did not need to be cleared, and Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant Maize in the very fields of his ancestors! Squanto was taken in by the Wampanoag tribe, and Chief Massassoit. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to catch fish, plant corn, pick fruits and berries. After a successful harvest, during that first summer of 1621, Governor Bradford called for a FEAST DAY. He invited Massassoit, who came with 90 Indian guests! They brought 5 dressed deer and 12 fat wild turkeys. They helped in preparation and taught the Pilgrim women how to make a tasty pudding from cornmeal and maple syrup, and how to roast dried kernels of corn in an earthen pot until it popped, fluffy and white!
I never tire of hearing this important part of our history.
Would you be thankful if there was no Turkey?
Would you be thankful if there was no football?
Would you be thankful if there was no job?
Today, I would like for us to consider an EXHORTATION to focus our THANKFULNESS on GOD and not on the THINGS that he gives us!
I am concerned that our Thanksgiving celebrations might cause us to focus more on the things that we have, than the God who gave them to us.
The focus of your gratitude is the same as the focus of your faith.
If your gratitude is for THINGS, in reality, you are BOUND to those things.
If your gratitude is focused on GOD who provides all things, then you will have a thankful heart regardless of your circumstances.
Habakkuk 3:17–19 is a powerful and beautiful passage concerning thanksgiving. The amazing thing about this passage of praise is that it occurs in the middle of very troubling times. "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”