The first American Thanksgiving didn't occur in 1621 when a group of Pilgrims shared a feast with a group of friendly American Natives. The first recorded American thanksgiving actually took place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn't a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help finally arrived, it came in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England. A prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God.
The Church has a rich history of giving thanks to the Lord. Being truly grateful for the blessings that the he has poured out on his people is something that brings great pleasure to the Lord. Many of us will gather around tables with family and friends this Thanksgiving and we will find it easy to be thankful for all of the good things that have happened over the past year. It does not come naturally for us to be thankful for the trials and the struggles of the past year but we should take a moment and examine all of the difficulty that we have endured and where we are today because of the struggle.
I am pretty sure that the first Thanksgiving was filled with tears and sadness. Yet through it all, those 60 settlers praised God. Even though we may not be facing difficulties to the degree of those first settlers, we all have difficulty and troubles. I am so proud of those of you that have walked through or are presently walking through difficult times. Way of Life Fellowship has been a great display of praising God through the midst of storms. I want to encourage you to never give up because the hope that we have is so much greater than the trials of this world.
We all have a lot to be thankful for. I am especially thankful for this group of people that God has blessed me with and given me the privilege to pastor -- people who love Jesus and each other enough to bear the weight of trials together.
Colossians 3:12-17 tells us, "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."