And Yet They Gave Thanks | Drew Zahn | The Family Leader

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This Thanksgiving, I have been given a fresh perspective on what it means to be thankful.

According to historians, America’s first Thanksgiving was celebrated after the Pilgrim’s first, successful harvest in 1621. But it was celebrated, in part, because the year previous had been so filled with sorrow. The Pilgrims had suffered starvation that killed nearly every wife and mother in the settlement; the Native Americans were nearly wiped out by plague. There were many, many empty places at the table for that first Thanksgiving feast.

And yet, they gave thanks.

“Although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us,” wrote Edward Winslow, one of those who attended that first Thanksgiving, “yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you, partakers of our plenty.”

Similarly, the year leading up to Thanksgiving 2020 has been, for many of us, filled with sorrow. Rather than homes filled with friends and family, many of us will feel the acute pain of missing our loved ones at our Thanksgiving tables.

“Yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want,” Winslow wrote.

How could those first Pilgrims give thanks for the goodness of God? Were they not grieving? Were they not, at times, beyond despair?

And yet, they gave thanks.

I am humbled by their faith. I am reminded that if they saw the goodness of God in their lowly circumstance, how much more do I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Somehow, this thought brings me joy. I have joy for what I do have, for the blessings I have been given in Christ, for the good news of Christ and His love and sacrifice for me, and for the hope of heaven that neither death nor plague can take from me.

I look at the faces that DO sit around my Thanksgiving table … and I pray it be said of us as well, “And yet, they gave thanks.”

May your Thanksgiving be blessed and joyous, and may we look with certain hope to the day when we sit together again around our Father’s table and give thanks!


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