Recently I watched a series of student interviews at a “Christian” college in the Midwest. They were asked whether it is appropriate to celebrate Thanksgiving. The vast majority answered negatively, citing concerns about oppression and colonization. The few that affirmed the holiday did so only as it pertains to the joys of feasting and family gatherings, apart from any historical significance. Clearly, these students were ignorant of the real history of Thanksgiving and demonstrate the impact of indoctrination by “enlightened” high school teachers and college professors. If such a perspective dominates the next generation we are not only in danger of losing our true history but also of squandering the freedoms upon which our nation was founded.
As I write, it is Thanksgiving Day 2019, a year before the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims in the New World. On this day I am most thankful for the blessings of salvation through the finished work of Christ. I am thankful for the joys of family and the fellowship with other like-minded Christian believers. And I am thankful for the steadfast faith, love, and courage that motivated the 102 Pilgrims to sail across the Atlantic and establish a beachhead of Christian civilization in North America.
Nearly half died in the terrible rigors of that first year in the New World. Still, they struggled on, driven by a love for God and desire to establish a civilization where their descendants could freely serve the Lord. H.U. Westermayer has observed, “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than homes. No Americans have been more impoverished than these, who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”
Yes, they planned a time to publicly declare their gratitude to the Lord for His blessings upon them in that first year. Despite the hardships, they were filled with praise to the God they served. The 53 survivors were joined by 90 Indians from a nearby village. Together they feasted and celebrated. God used the natives to provide instruction and assistance on how to survive in the wilderness. The thought of colonial oppression did not cross their minds. Attributing such motivation to the Pilgrims reflects the distortion of warped minds devoted to rewriting history by attributing to the Pilgrims the sins of their descendants
Gov. William Bradford described their mentality before sailing from Europe: “They knew they were pilgrims, and lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits”. The future was uncertain, but their trust was in the God who would guide their voyage and the initial settlement at Plymouth. Such an example inspires us to persevere in the face of life’s challenges four centuries later.