I happen to live in the Northeast where Thanksgiving as we know it began. Those religious refugees who landed here, were seeking a new life away from the tyranny of religious persecution, and were looking for the Promised Land. However, what awaited them was far from the land of milk and honey. New England winters can be brutal, and without modern conveniences like homes, and heat, they can be deadly. Such was the case for those pilgrims when they came here.
Any comfort they had in Europe was not available to them, nor was the safety of the ships they came in. The Natives were not exactly the “Welcome Wagon,” nor were they immediately friendly. Many of the settlers lost their lives. Though, over time as their numbers radically decreased due to battles with the Natives, each other, sickness, and the environment, they eventually settled in.
They had one thing in common that allowed them to come together with hope, Jesus Christ. They all had faith in a living, loving God, who was aware of their suffering, and participated in their lives both individually and corporately. This God sustained them. He provided shelter from the storms, friends, even though the natives were often hostile, and food in a land that was also at times hostile, and they knew it. Each trial allowed them to draw closer to God. Each encounter with their enemies gave an opportunity to share Christ. These missionaries had a tough mission field, but their God was tougher.
As their numbers dwindled, to some extent, so did their resolve. Some started to become violent, and used God as a reason for that violence. Unfortunately, that negative witness is what we see written in the history books today. What a surprise? Since when is good news…news? Stories about history have a way of taking on a slant. In today’s world, as probably in times before, the slant is away from God and His people.
Therefore, the picture we have of Thanksgiving today is focused on how the evil Christians plowed over, and took advantage of the poor and perfectly innocent Natives. After all, weren’t they only trying to help the settlers adjust to their new environment? Who else would do that?
When the poor helpless Christians, with their imaginary and non-existent God realized that the Indians saved them they decided to “give Thanks” to the Natives by way of a feast. Uh, no, not exactly! There were more Natives at that picnic than Settlers. It was not the Indians that kept the settlers alive, or brought rain on the crops, and warm days in the spring and summer. They didn’t provide the landscape, or add one day to the lives of the settlers. It was God that provided those things. The settlers knew that well. The Indians, whether they believed in God or not, reaped the benefits as well. It was this God, who deserved the thanks for providing for the people. It was this God, and not His creatures or His creation that they celebrated. This THANKSGIVING season, remember the One who has preserved your life! Give thanks to Him because He gave your life to you!