Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. When I was a (rather chubby) kid, it was mostly because of the food. As I got older though, I also came to appreciate the value of intentionally expressing gratitude.
***By the way, thank you for your friendship, support and readership! It really means a lot to me!!***
This year, my love for Thanksgiving is at an all-time high, because this is my first Thanksgiving since I went to Plymouth, MA, and learned way more about its true origins. The Thanksgiving story is a story of faith, courage, perseverance, unwavering hope, and MIRACLES. I think it will encourage you to be reminded of it today.
**Below are some pics I took at The Pilgrim Museum, along with an ultra-abbreviated summary of their story. Much more is found in William Bradford’s book “Of Plymouth Plantation”, which I highly recomend reading.
In September of 1620, after years of enduring intense religious persecution in England (beatings, imprisonments, fines, etc.), 102 men and women set sail on a 66-day journey across the Atlantic, relying on nothing but the wind to get them to their intended destination, which was Virginia. Thier burning desire was to live in a place where they could worship God the way the Bible tells us to, and they were willing to risk their lives for it. Amazing!
Because of winds and storms, they ended up hundreds of miles from Virginia. Initially they are discouraged by this, but when they discover that the name of the town- Plymouth, is the same as the name of the city in England that they once lived in, they consider it a sign from God that they are where they are supposed to be.
At this point, it is late December, and it is getting VERY cold. The Pilgrims hunkered down, but many of them died during the winter because of the freezing temperatures. Here is a poster showing those who were on the Mayflower and those who made it through the winter.
By April, only 49 of them were left. They all emerged from the first winter grateful to be alive but also totally unsure of how they will survive any longer. It is at this point that they meet the Indian leader Squanto. Amazingly, he speaks English!
Squanto explains to them that he was once captured as a slave by British merchants, and that he lived nearly a decade in England where he learned conversational English. Incredibly, he was brought back to the exact place that he was taken from, and by the time the Pilgrims arrived, he had made many connections with the local Indian Chiefs.
At this point, he agrees to be the Pilgrims’ land guide and to teach them where to fish, where to hunt and how to grow crops. He also agrees to be the mediator between them and the other Indians (many of whom wanted to kill the Pilgrims initially).
With Squanto’s help, the Pilgrims formed a peace treaty with the Indian Chief Massasoit, which remained in place for over 20 years. The Pilgrims and the Indians now began to work together for their mutual survival.
The Pilgrims, walking by faith this entire time, were still uncertain of whether they would ultimately be able to live of the land for years to come. This uncertainty came to an end when after following Squanto’s planting advice, they had a harvest that was FAR beyond what they had expected!
The Pilgrims gave Jesus all the credit for the harvest, and they had a 3-day celebration to honor Him for His provision. This was the first Thanksgiving. Below is a painting depicting it. It is flanked by a statue of Squanto on the left and William Bradford- Governor of Plymouth, on the right.
From then on Squanto and the Pilgrims were great friends and great allies. Squanto was with them until the day he died, helping them survive and thrive any way he could. William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent by God for their good beyond expectation.”
And as they say- the rest is history. The Pilgrims then built homes, communities, churches, schools and businesses. They also lived in peace together with the Indians for decades and they led many, including Squanto, to faith in Christ. They also inspired many other persecuted Christians to make the journey across the Atlantic to enjoy the same freedom to worship. This led to the New England colonies forming, which at one point were made up of 98% born again Christians!
Of course, as time went on, many people with other motives were also inspired to come here. Some even did serious harm to the Indians. However, by that point the foundations of America had already been laid and the land had already been committed into the hands of God. His blessings and unmerited favor were with America from that point on, and even though we’ve made some terrible mistakes over the generations, God has honored the covenant that was made with the Pilgrims.
Here’s a really neat video that explains more about The Pilgrim story, specifically their relationship with Squanto and the Indians. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Click here to watch it- The Miracle That Saved America
I hope this story inspires you as much as it does me! Email me back and let me know what it speaks to you.
Have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving!