23 Nov What Are You Thankful For?
What are you thankful for?
As Thanksgiving approaches each year, we think of the Pilgrims who came to this new land and began the tradition of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest that our nation observes every year. We are most familiar with the feast that was held in the autumn of 1621, but many Americans are not familiar with the difficulties the Pilgrim community faced in the years that followed. That period, which the Pilgrims called the “starving time,” can teach us more about being thankful for everything that we have.
During the winter of 1622, the food rations for the Plymouth Colony declined. They planted corn, hoping for a fall harvest, but the anticipated bounty failed to materialize. On top of that, the captain of a ship bound for England cheated the Pilgrims. Although they had some items to trade with the Indians to get food, the daily rations grew tighter and tighter.
During the spring of 1623, the Pilgrims had some success using a boat to catch fish and clams to supplement their daily food ration of five kernels of corn per day. It was during this time, after a typical dinner consisting of a plate of clams and a glass of cold water, that Governor William Brewster wrote, “I thank God for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand.” The people didn’t have much, but they were grateful for what they had.
The harvest that year was threatened by a lack of moisture, but the Pilgrims prayed and it rained on and off for two weeks, saving the harvest and turning things around for the colony. After that the Pilgrims started a custom of putting five kernels of corn on each empty plate before a thanksgiving dinner. Each member of the family would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. This served to remind them that the first group of Pilgrims nearly starved during their first few years in the new land, and they had a lot to be thankful for.
The Five Kernels is a great way to begin counting our blessings this year. If you need some help getting started, try looking at Psalm 103: 1-5. The Psalmist lists five things that we don’t often think about, but should be thankful for every day.
Forgiveness—Bless the Lord who forgives all your iniquities. The word here speaks of a full pardon. Pardon means a price had to be paid. God does not simply excuse our sin, or ignore it. He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us, so that every person can be forgiven once and for all.
Healing—He heals all your diseases. The root word of heal is “to mend.” The Lord may not heal everyone, yet all healing is a gift of God. The greatest healing is that through His sacrifice, Jesus has released us from the disease of sin which infects every human heart.
Redemption—Who redeems your life from the pit. The word describes a trap or even a grave. The idea of a redeemer comes from the idea of buying back the property of a relative. Israel’s King David was brought to the throne because the Boaz redeemed and married Ruth. Their son, Obed, was David’s grandfather, so he came from the lineage of the redeemed. Through Jesus, God has redeemed all mankind and is now calling men and women to himself. I John 3:1 says,” How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God.”
Love and Compassion—Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies. God doesn’t stop with cleansing, healing, and redemption. He loves us so much that He protects and honors His children, treating them like princes and princesses. We are joint heirs with Jesus, and can say, “Abba father!” God wants a relationship with every person.
Satisfaction and Renewal—Who satisfies your desires with good things. This really includes a double blessing. God provides everything we need, and He renews our youth like the eagles. The Psalmist is saying that God’s power provides a new lease on life. He restores us, and makes us all that He knows we can be. The comparison here is to the strongest, most majestic bird in creation, the eagle. We can soar because of everything the Lord has done for us.
This Thanksgiving, take time to count your blessings! Let the Five Kernels and Psalm 103 spur your memory. We have so much to be thankful for, but the first step is being thankful to God. The Hebrew word pictures an extension of the hand, as an act of worship. Thanksgiving is reaching out and giving thanks to God, and humbly thanking Him for His blessings each day.