The Thanksgiving holiday is a time for all Americans to give thanks to God. Most Americans will celebrate it with their own traditions. It is a day when people gather with their loved ones and reflect on how thankful they are for their good fortune over the past year. Thanksgiving Day traditions have departed from some of its true meanings in a similar manner to some other holidays that have given over to popular practices of celebrations like Black Friday shopping sprees, consumption of foods, parades and of course, football games with beer. Sunday church sermons, no doubt, still remind all of us to be thankful for our blessings.
The original meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday was a time to be thank God and remember with gratitude the kindness of the Indians that saved the first pilgrims from starvation as they sought to occupy the new land discovered by Christopher Columbus. The pilgrims were dying of disease and starvation but the Native American Indians that occupied the land showed them how to plant food for survival. The pilgrims and the Indians celebrated the success of their collaboration with a festive dinner together that is remembered centuries later in our present day Thanksgiving Holiday. As this holiday has progressed through the centuries, the part that is seldom mentioned in public is the role of the Indians. It was the generosity of the Indians that saved the pilgrims who survived to start this powerful nation.
“All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which is place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports. (William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation: S.E. Morison, ed. Knopf. N.Y., 1952. p 90)
Forgotten also is the fact that the generosity of the Indians was repaid by being pushed off their land and onto reservations where many died of starvation and disease. It is amazing how our nation has selective memories of it history and promotes only that which reflect well on it. Does anyone care how the Indians feel about this day of celebration?
“Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. Each year since 1970, a group of Native Americans and their supporters have staged a protest for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. American Indian Heritage Day is also observed at this time of the year.” (http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/thanksgiving-day)
America has much to be thankful for and should rightly thank God for its success in the world. God, however, “…desirest truth in the inward parts (Ps 51:6).” Not only has America downgraded thankfulness owed to God in the Thanksgiving holiday but the nation seems to have also forgotten that there were many others that played a major role in the development of the nation. It is ironic that this nation, which was settled by European immigrants, has frown on Native American Indians, immigrants from other nations as well as the rights of other non-Caucasian people in America and particularly those of African descent that were brought here, not by choice but by force. Many groups of people that were oppressed during these first centuries also celebrate Thanksgiving as an American tradition. It is well to celebrate one’s good fortune but it is a shame to be so disingenuous as to sanitize history with only selective facts.
There have been many nations that rose to great success in the world but there is a Great Eternal Force that has seen nations come and nations go. There is a Sovereign God who promotes nations for His glory. Those nations that are true to God are blessed of Him to enjoy longevity and success.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psa 33:12
The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. Psa 103:6
God, however, remembers the past and works on behalf of the downcasts that have been overlooked or pushed aside by the mighty, as He did in assisting the first American settlers that were the outcasts of Europe. God is a God of truth who reveals hidden things and brings them to the light. God’s purpose in having the Israelites set up monuments and holy days was that they would not forget their history or indebtedness to God and others that help them gain victory. God has a way of bringing us back to remembrance of those things that have been covered over, hidden or pushed aside.
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. Co 4:5
The nation of America is now experiencing a time when it is being brought back into remembrance of past sins and wounds that have not healed. America loves it present success and does not want to be brought into remembrance of darker days. But God does remember those dark days and those oppressed by the strong. He has planned for all people to be brought into the His bountiful blessings. The powerful never want to relinquish its power but the oppressed have a right to turn to and make a demand on God for restitution and restoration. Being a just God sitting in judgment over all people, He will always bring forth righteousness.
It is at times like the Thanksgiving holiday that people should be brought into remembrance of history and the true meaning of a holiday or holy day. Thankfulness is a natural outcome of performing labor and receiving its benefits. But unrighteous rewards never give peace. Those that choose to forget the history behind holidays need to be reminded of their true meaning. It was God that set aside times and monuments to bring people back into remembrance of past events so that we could walk in truth rather than hypocrisy.
Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. Joe 1:3
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. Ex 12:26 -27
It is important to have a day where we reflect back and are thankful for our good fortune, but let’s not forget the God who made it possible and to do it in truth and sincerity. Part of America’s Thanksgiving celebration is the practice of providing for the poor and needy on this day. But God will greatly bless America is she reflects on the truth of why America enjoys its good fortune and recognize all those who helped make it possible.
Father God, help us to be truly thankful for all your goodness towards us. Remind us to show our thankfulness through the deeds we do for others. Preserve and keep us in health, provisions and peace for the days to come. These blessings we ask the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.