What is there to be thankful for? What are you thankful for? To whom are you thankful?
These three questions speak largely to what Thanksgiving is really about.
Too often, we miss seeing what is right before us here and now and what lies in the future.
There is a lot around us to be thankful for.
We can be thankful for how patriots before us have paid with their very lives to give us liberty.
We can also be thankful for the ability to possess and work your own land or your own business.
More importantly, we can be thankful as the Pilgrims were — giving thanks to God, the Creator and Provider, for freedom of worship.
The conditions for the pilgrims when they landed at Plymouth in December 1620 were extreme. Over half died in the first year due to starvation, sickness and exposure to the harsh winter.
But the remainder persevered. After fleeing persecution and possible death in England, they were now able to worship God in freedom. But they had to do something to survive.
In the first year, everyone worked on collective plots of land and all provisions went into a storehouse from which equal shares were distributed.
Part of the reason for setting things up this way for this was dictated by the merchant sponsors in England who wanted to be paid back over a seven-year period. The pilgrims were heavily in debt to those investors.
But the situation was bleak. The collective farming arrangement simply wasn’t working.
William Bradford decided to give every family an acre of private land to own and to do with whatever they wanted. There was no requirement to do so, but families chose to farm their acres.
Men who earlier were unwilling to work for others, now had incentive to work, because the fruit of their labor was not going to be taken away from them.
And men who did work before worked even harder. Wives and children began to help in the gardens, too. As a result they all began to prosper.
There is much to be learned here. The plan the Pilgrims used at first, the disastrous method of collectivism to try and provide for social and economic welfare as well to pay back their debts, is what progressives advocate for today.
Our government has racked up enormous debt with out-of-control spending and is now forcing us to pay more and more of what we earn to the collective.
Those who work find little incentive to work harder. And those who do not work, and have the ability to work, have no incentive to start because the government will supposedly take care of them.
Will it take until there is widespread starvation in our country before we pay attention to the lessons of the past?
The first thing the pilgrims did was pray. The prayed for wisdom and God’s provision.
The pilgrims were eager to settle the new land and had great intentions of working together.
But when they were given opportunity to own their land, then they began to work even harder.
When we sit down to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday, we should be sure to remember those who came before us. Not only those first settlers but the men and women who fought since then to preserve our freedoms.
We have a lot to be thankful for. We have a future and a hope. But we are about at the place where those first pilgrims were in their first year: Something has to be done.
Now is the the time to give thanks to God and pray for wisdom and His provision.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
God brought tremendous blessing to the pilgrims and guided them in laying the foundations for our great nation.
On a visit to Plymouth Rock, Daniel Webster wrote in 1820, “We have come to this Rock, to record here our homage for our Pilgrim Fathers; our sympathy in their sufferings; our gratitude for their labors; our admiration of their virtues; our veneration for their piety; and our attachment to those principles of civil and religious liberty, which they encountered the dangers of the ocean, the storms of heaven, the violence of savages, disease, exile, and famine, to enjoy and establish.
“And we would leave here, also, for the generations which are rising up rapidly to fill our places, some proof, that we have endeavored to transmit the great inheritance unimpaired; that in our estimate of public principles, and private virtue; in our veneration of religion and piety; in our devotion to civil and religious liberty; in our regard to whatever advances human knowledge, or improves human happiness, we are not altogether unworthy of our origin.”
— Todd Allen, Publisher