Guest essay by Jeanette Whittaker
The true spirit of thanksgiving can be hard to capture in the whirlwind of modern society. You can’t face book, text, tweet, or click to discover it.
You’ll find the spirit of thanksgiving as you contemplate and consider the nature and mighty works of our Creator and Savior.
The spirit of thanksgiving places all hope and trust in God. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. Psalm 145:3-4.
The spirit of thanksgiving recognizes the faithfulness of God. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Lamentations 3:22-24.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we honor our Pilgrim fathers because they lived the Biblical spirit of thanksgiving.
Recognizing the principles of Scripture, they followed the dictates of conscience concerning the practice of their faith.
Tested by persecution, they placed all faith and hope in God. Recounting their experiences, William Bradford used phrases such as, “their desires were set on the ways of God…they rested on his providence, and knew whom they had believed.”
After spending a decade in Holland, the Separatists prepared themselves for an even more difficult endeavor, emigrating to the wilderness of North America. Bradford acknowledged the enormity of this step of faith with these gripping words, “It was answered that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages…all of them [difficulties], through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne or overcome.”
Arrived at Cape Cod, far from their planned destination in Virginia, Bradford recorded their continued choice to place all their faith and trust in God. “What could now sustain them but the spirit of God and his grace? May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voice, and looked on their adversity. Let them therefore praise the Lord, because he is good, and his mercies endure for ever.”
Over and over again, Bradford echoed the sentiments of the saints of God through all of time. In God will I put my trust.
Facing disease and death, near starvation, as well as other hardships, the Pilgrims carried on in those early years. In 1623, a two-month drought threatened to wipe out the carefully planted crops. What would these steadfast Pilgrims do? In Bradford’s words, “they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress. And he was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer.”
On the very day of their fasting and prayer, they received rain, followed by “such seasonable showers…as, through his blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy…they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”
Where would we be in America today if our Pilgrim forefathers had placed their faith in the wisdom of man?
Where will we be in America if our generation fails to recognize the call of God for individuals, families, and our nation?
As you move through this Thanksgiving season, may the Lord Jesus Christ give you reason to rejoice and to live in hope. In the days that follow, may you purpose to live in acknowledgement of the mighty works of God—past, present, and future.
The original of this essay appeared as part of a Thanksgiving email circulated by the Pilgrim Institute.
Mrs. Jeanette Whittaker serves in leadership and in the educational ministry of Pilgrim Institute. Having taught students of all ages, she shares both the inspiration and practical implementation of the Principle Approach to American Christian Education. She is a contributing author to The Mighty Works of God Providential history series for children, home schools her son and daughter, and leads a local Principle Approach® Home School.
© 2016 Used by Permission