The fourth Thursday of November is set aside as a day of Thanksgiving, a time marked by family gatherings, good food, and a time of reflection upon the rich bounty of our great God.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in1621, the year after the arrival of the Mayflower. It was attended by 53 pilgrims, the only colonists to survive the long journey across the ocean and the first winter in the New World. This was just over half of the original 102 who set sail for the new world in 1620. They were helped through the winter with supplies of food from the local Indians, but the ultimate supply came from the unseen hand of God's Providence. As they gathered together to celebrate the first harvest, they had much for which to be thankful. The first celebration wasn't called Thanksgiving. It was simply a harvest celebration, but it was full of gratitude to God for His provision.
There are many different opinions surrounding this first Thanksgiving. There is one point that cannot be disputed. These early pilgrim colonists were Christians. They looked to God for their provision, even in the midst of their terrible ordeal. The Christian heart is full of gratitude. While the first Thanksgiving was most likely not called by this name, two years later they held a "Thanksgiving" that was primarily a religious day of prayer and fasting. In time these two events became intertwined. They regularly gathered for a season of Thanksgiving to God.
It is God's will for His people to live in a continual spirit of thanksgiving, gratitude that is directed to Him for all of His great blessings. The Psalmist writes, Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name" (Psalm 103:1 KJV). We praise and worship God with our whole heart, all that is within us. We praise God in all things and in every circumstance. Paul instructs us, "in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thes. 5:18). This is all-inclusive--"in everything."
As you prepare your heart for the 2019 season of Thanksgiving ponder deeply the countless blessings God has poured out in your life. Even the things we consider trials are actually God's wondrous work in us preparing us for glory. And as Thanksgiving begins the Christmas season, begin to ponder anew the greatest blessing of God's gift of His Son.