“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance,
I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
These words of Paul are extremely appropriate for this month of Thanksgiving. When I think of that first thanksgiving in 1621, I think of hale and hearty Caucasians gathered around tables with many Native Americans and having a sumptuous feast of all sorts of food.
I always thought that they were reflecting upon the blessings of the last year and giving thanks to God for them. That was until I looked up on a web site and found this information about the reality of that first thanksgiving in 1621,
“Many of the able-bodied men were too infirm to work, and some died of their illnesses. Thus, only seven residences (of a planned nineteen) and four common houses were constructed during the first winter.
During the first winter in the New World, the Mayflower colonists suffered greatly from diseases like scurvy, lack of shelter and general conditions onboard ship. 45 of the 102 emigrants died the first winter and were buried on Cole's Hill. Additional deaths during the first year meant that only 53 people were alive in November 1621 to celebrate the first Thanksgiving. Of the 18 adult women, 13 died the first winter while another died in May. Only four adult women were left alive for the Thanksgiving.”
How many of us having had a year as brutal as that would have had any desire to celebrate anything at all? Almost half their colony and almost 75% of the women had died in that first winter.
2020 has been a brutal year for us as well in so many different ways. Adjectives we have used to describe this year have been “difficult,” “challenging,” and “contentious” just to name a few.
However, “thankful” has not been one of them. The truth seems simple but is entirely accurate. All of us have a great deal to be thankful for. We have those things which have occurred over the course of this last year that have not been as we would have hoped—illness, financial strain, emotional strain, changes in worship, changes in our daily living and more—yet we can be thankful for the greatest blessing of all – Jesus Christ our Savior. No other person is more valuable to us because through Him God has provided eternal life in heaven and forgiveness on this earth.
As we gather this month with family and friends, bear in mind the joys and the struggles of this last year and if nothing else, give thanks to our Lord and Savior who has been faithful to His Word and continues to bring us through it all.
Pastor Peter Peitsch