Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are enjoying, or will soon be enjoying, the company of family and all the material comforts of a feast in a warm home. On Thanksgiving our family usually opens up our old copy of William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation and we read portions of the Pilgrim story. I’m reminded that those brave Christians were motivated in large part by the love they had for their children.
When told of the story behind the first Thanksgiving feast in the New World, we often hear about the Pilgrims’ desire for religious freedom or their hope of laying a good foundation for the advancement of the gospel in “the remote parts of the world.” Yet there was another critical concern. Bradford, the governor of the colony for many years, reflects:
“…as necessity was a task-master over them, so they themselves were forced to be…[task-masters] over their dearest children; which not a little wounded the hearts of many a loving father and mother, and produced many sad and sorrowful effects. Many of their children…were often so oppressed with their labours….their bodies bowed under the weight and became decrepit in early youth…But still more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks and leaving their parents….So they saw their posterity would be in danger to degenerate and become corrupt.”
The concern of the Pilgrim parents for the physical and spiritual health of their children was a major factor in their deciding to leave Holland and go to America.
Though their “removal,” as they called it, was costly in every way, their FAMILIES were established, by God’s grace, in the wilderness. They did become stepping stones to many that followed them. This was part of their giving thanks to God that first thanksgiving.
The history is always of interest …but of course I have to remember that actively thanking God for His work in my family’s life is the purpose of our holiday. The world would have us stop at just being thankful for things. (I even saw a poster for Wildlife Safari that encouraged us to be thankful to the animals as a way to celebrate Thanksgiving). But just being thankful doesn’t go far enough.
Being thankful is a good thing, of course. No one likes to be around an ungrateful, complaining person. Yet just appreciating things, and not thanking God our Redeemer for them, fixes our eyes on the things and not God.
So I hope that as our children delight in the extra sleep and fun days, that we would also give thanks to our Glorious God who is our great Provider and Strength.