What is the significance of memorials? Is it not to remind us of the brave heroes of the past lest we forget who they were, what they did, and where we have come from as a country? History gives our lives context and teaches hope for the future as we remember the courageous acts of our forefathers. The answer to the challenges we face today can be found by going back and remembering God’s providence in our nation’s history so that we may find courage to move forward by living in total dependence upon God.
Thanksgiving Day is a distinctively American Christian holiday that reminds us of the Biblical convictions, courageous faith, and transcendent cause the Pilgrims lived for. Their legacy teaches us that being thankful is the fruit of a cultivated attitude of gratefulness because of who God is and what He has done and that it is possible to exhibit this despite the temporal circumstances and adversity of life.
By way of contrast, Black Friday reminds us of the incessant pursuit of the American dream with its insatiable lust for stuff. It is indicative of the human condition that one no longer needs to wait until midnight for blow-out deals because the sales begin well beforehand. The lack of family solidary and the destitution of relationships make the Thanksgiving meal one of the most awkward hours that must be endured every year. Dynamite deals serve as an excuse to escape in search of something to deaden the pain of an empty life. It is shameful that what the Pilgrims secured for us means so little to so many today.
We must never forget the origins of this holiday and why the Pilgrims came to the New World. They were part of a group of Christians who fled England to find religious freedom from the tyranny of the State Church. In Holland, they found freedom but also grueling work hours and an ungodly culture that threatened to subvert the truth in their children’s hearts and lives. God subsequently directed them to go to America for the sake of being free to live out their faith, to protect their children, and most importantly for the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Pilgrim saga is filled with miraculous testimony of God’s providential hand preserving their lives and orchestrating the details as they surrendered their life story to God’s larger plan. Whether it is the Atlantic journey, the composing and signing of the Mayflower Compact, the location where they landed, their survival of brutal winters, or the friendship of Samoset, Massasoit, and Squanto, God preserved their lives for the sake of His greater purpose. Scripture teaches that we are heirs to the past and ancestors to the future and our lives are part of a dynamic drama that the Sovereign Author of history is unfolding for His honor and glory.
This Thanksgiving, be grateful for God’s providential hand of protection and provision in history and in your own life. May you also be filled with joy for God’s love for hell-deserving sinners displayed at Calvary and therefore live for something greater than yourself-the praise of God’s glory in Christ Jesus both now and forever.
“One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4
*Published in the A-F Times-Reporter, November 2014