HomeHopeLife HelpsLife StoryGospelShare

A Call to Thanksgiving

[ English | Vietnamese ]

To All Ye Pilgrims
Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

--A Thanksgiving Proclamation Attributed to Governor William Bradford

In 1623, Governor William Bradford called the Pilgrims to gather together for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. Only three years earlier, they had left their jobs, their homes, and their communities in order to escape religious persecution in England. These brave men and women had survived a treacherous ocean voyage, only to find themselves stranded in strange new land, in a harsh climate, without sufficient food or shelter. During the first winter, half of them died of sickness and starvation. Those who remained had persevered, and though they continued to face many challenges, they had reason to give thanks.

As Governor Bradford now observed, the harvest was plentiful. In the previous winter, food had been rationed to five kernels of corn per person per day. No one would go hungry this year. Whereas the other colonies had been plagued by conflict, the Pilgrims lived at peace--with one another and the Indians. The sickness that claimed so many lives had now subsided. Most importantly to the Pilgrims, they were experiencing daily the freedom they had longed for, the freedom to worship God without fear of persecution or interference from the government. By God's grace, they had flourished in the New World. Truly, they were blessed.

And so are we today. Unfortunately it's a truth we often lose sight of. Contemporary culture celebrates greed, lusts after riches, and promotes envy. We're tempted to feel sorry for ourselves if we don't have everything we want or everything we see! All too easily, we forget how blessed we have been. We take for granted the freedom and prosperity we have enjoyed.

But if we stop and think about it, we soon realize how much we have to be thankful for. We live in a fruitful land that has never experienced widespread famine or deprivation. We have food to eat and clothes to wear. Our lives have been enriched by access to modern technology, information and education. We have escaped the ravages of disease, at a time when illness has decimated the populations of other countries. And we can gather together to worship God as we please--whenever we please--without the fear of losing our jobs, our property, or our lives.

In addition to these earthly blessings, we have spiritual blessings as well. In His Word, God assures us that when we call upon Him, He hears us (Isaiah 65:24). He has promised to provide for our every need (Philippians 4:19). He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

The most precious gift of all is recorded in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (KJV) Through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, God has reconciled us to Himself. We have been rescued from the power of sin and death if we personally receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. Through Christ we are forgiven. Heaven's door has been opened to us. We will have all eternity to rejoice in the praises of Almighty God, our Heavenly Father. How can we can ever thank Him enough?

2002 Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
Translated by permission of Good News Publishers
1300 Crescent Street
Wheaton, IL 60187