This week many Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving. Sadly we are losing our focus on the original reason for Thanksgiving as the spiritual state of America continues to decline. Many people in America, or even across the world, may ask, “What is Thanksgiving?” This is an important question and it is even more important to acquire a correct answer. As families gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving, are we reminding our children what Thanksgiving means? While some may describe this day as just an “annual harvest festival,” Thanksgiving was originally established as a reminder to Christians that we should thank God for His many blessings.
The Original Thanksgiving
This tradition is widely recognized in the United States as beginning in 1621 with the Pilgrims and Native Americans at Plymouth. Following a deadly first winter in the “New World,” the Pilgrims had a good harvest, and they celebrated with a harvest festival, thanking God for His blessings. On December 11, 1621, Edward Winslow wrote the following description of the festival (text has been modernized):
Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown, they came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom.
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after … a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.1
Although the original Thanksgiving was basically a harvest festival and not yet an official holiday, Edward Winslow clearly gave glory to God and attributed to Him the blessings they enjoyed. Even though the Pilgrims worked very hard and were thankful to the Indians who helped them in the New World, they recognized that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Despite how hard we work or how many blessings we receive from others, we must realize where all blessings ultimately come from—God our Provider.
The Importance of Reminders
Many businesses, educational resources, and institutions neglect to mention the strong Christian origins of this national holiday. For America to return to its Christian roots, individuals must once again recognize God as the Provider. Thanksgiving Day was instituted as a reminder to give thanks to God for His provisions, but sadly many have forgotten the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Forgetting what God has done for His people is a common theme throughout the Old Testament. For example, God stressed the importance of remembering God’s provision when He told Joshua to set up twelve stones as a sign for the people:
That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, “What do these stones mean to you?” Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever. (Joshua 4:6–7)
But what did happen? The children of Israel eventually forgot. The same thing is happening in America right now. Is there anything we can do to help stop it? Well, it starts with each and every believer. We encourage you to share the real reason to give thanks—the gospel of Jesus Christ—to anyone that may listen and the next time someone asks you, “What is Thanksgiving?” you can also share your testimony and tell them what God has done in your life.
Source: Answers in Genesis
Shelby Systems would like to wish you a very blessed Thanksgiving this year. Let us all give thanks for the wonderous bounty that God has bestowed on our nation and our families.