The image today shows the first Thanksgiving and the guests preparing to dig into a great feast from the bounty of their first year in the new world. The current trend is to think of these first pilgrims as invaders, with the idea of possessing land and savagely taking it away from those who were there first. It’s apparent that the newcomers were sitting down to eat and give thanks with their new friends, the natives.
As an old lady, I was taught that we are a nation of immigrants. An immigrant is one who is currently living under difficult pressure by his government, by church, by a feeling of persecution or hardship. Some other words for immigrant – expatriate, settler, evacuee, squatter and refugee. These immigrants endured a treacherous journey to escape the life they left behind to start afresh.
That journey across the ocean was bad enough, but when they arrived in the new land, they had nothing except a strong faith in God and a will to begin a new life. They weathered a difficult winter, disease, death and hardship.
We think about our own situations today – being held under mandates that forbid us to celebrate Thanksgiving as we once did. We live in fear of getting COVID19 and possibly dying from it. We stockpile what we can, so we aren’t left with enough of the essentials, like toilet paper. We hear about friends and acquaintances who are facing the consequences of this disease. We live in a divided country at the moment. Many of our freedoms may be taken away.
Perhaps we should ponder on how good we have it in comparison to our forefathers. We have become accustomed to having much. It is part of our society now to own more than one car, live in a nice house with beautifully landscaped yards, take expensive trips. Yet there is a part of our population that still lives in poverty.
Martin Rinkart ministered to the people of Eilenburg, Germany during the Thirty Years War. Not only was the town the site of many skirmishes, but many lives were lost due to disease and poverty – a common malady of that time. Rinkart officiated over 4000 funerals, including his wife’s, during this difficult time. He often buried as many as 50 in a day. Are we living in times like this?
It’s hard to imagine having such a strong faith in such great sadness, but in the next twenty years, Rinkart penned the lyrics to the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.” The words resonate with gratitude even in adverse situations.
God dishes out great bounty even when everything seems hopeless and bleak. We don’t always see the blessings, but God is good and His mercy endures forever – even when times are tough. Especially when things look their darkest.
Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.
All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! MAY GOD’S LOVE ABOUND IN YOUR LIVES. HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.