Americans are so wrapped around politics and COVID that they are beginning the holiday season with tremendous angst. Let us remember the spirit of Thanksgiving rather than being agitated by the spirit of fear. After Christ said in Matthew 6:33 to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, in verse 34, he says, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Among all the headlines and the jack-boot shutdowns and the toll-free call lines to rat your neighbors out for having family over for Thanksgiving, let’s take a deep breath and remember who we are and why we are here. Let us think on the good things.
My grandfather 13 generations back was William Bradford, co-writer of the Mayflower Compact and eventual leader of the Pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620. There were some 102 passengers and about 30 crewmen on that ship that braved horrible weather, disease, and other hardships to come to this new place that later would become the greatest Christian nation in the world. Bradford wrote, “So they committed themselves to the will of God, and resolved to proceed. In several of these storms the wind was so strong and the seas so high that they could not carry a knot of sail, but were forced to hull for many days.” The trip in of itself to find a place to worship without persecution was most difficult.
Once landed, it was no picnic either. Bradford says, “But soon a most lamentable blow fell upon them. In two or three month’s time half of their company died…scarcely 50 remained, and sometimes two or three persons died in a day. In the time of worst distress, there were but six or seven sound persons, who, to their great commendation be it spoken, spared no pains night or day, but with great toil and at the risk of their own health, fetched wood, made fires, prepared food for the sick, made their beds, washed their infected clothes, dressed and undressed them; in a word did all the homely and necessary services for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear mentioned.”
“…And what I have said of these few, I should say of many others who died in this general visitation, and others yet living, that while they had health or strength, they forsook none that had need of them. I doubt not that their recompense is with the Lord.” Their Virginia Company Charter, however, called for common ownership of land, property, food, drink, clothing, and provisions. Bradford saw that this socialist experiment was detrimental to the colony because it inspired laziness and a lack of productivity. Bradford then did away with this structure, giving ownership of land to each person and two days a week for “their own private employment.” This was the first capitalist system and the colony then prospered.
These brave souls overcame greater things that threatened their very existence than we are facing. They survived due to their faith in God, their care for one another, and their individual freedom to prosper. These foundation blocks were laid in the US Declaration of Independence and built out in the Constitution as inalienable rights endowed by our Creator—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty in Christ. The right to worship, to speak freely, and the right to privacy. All these are under attack by a dark and sinister force. But let us this day conclude as in Philippians 4:8, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
This Thanksgiving, let us thank God for these blessings and ask for the strength and wisdom to preserve them for generations to come. That this American experiment, now over 400 years old, may be a beacon of the light of Christ to those who seek him. Let us think on the good things.