As every school child knows, the Pilgrims arrived in the New World in the winter of 1620. After a difficult struggle for survival, by October 1621 the Pilgrims could celebrate a successful harvest large enough to sustain the colony in the coming winter. The grateful Pilgrims invited their Indian friends to a three-day feast of thanksgiving to God.
That's where the story typically ends—for us. But the Pilgrims’ survival would remain in jeopardy as famine and disease stalked the fledgling colony for years to come. And yet, no matter how difficult things got, they never failed to offer thanks to God.
What better lesson for us as we gather this Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones? Sure, these are hard economic times. We’re watching the economy crumble before our eyes. We see the automobile industry possibly tanking. We’re in that politically uncertain period between presidential administrations.
But even in the best of times, we often have to deal with personal and family problems. Maybe you have a loved one you’re concerned about today. Right now my daughter is wrestling with a very difficult health issue.
When I went through my prayer list this morning, there were about 50 items on it! I interceded for good friends who are sick, for the future of Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint in these uncertain times. And one of the very first things I do every day during my devotions is to ask God to revive His Church—which, especially here in America, seems so self-satisfied, so spiritually asleep.
Yet in the midst of all the problems and chaos, I find perfect peace. Thirty-five years ago God reached out and saved me. I know for certain that if He had not forgiven me my sins, I would not be alive today.
And then I think of my wonderful family. As a matter of fact, in these tough times, I sense we’re all getting a little closer. Even my daughter’s physical pain has kept me on my knees—a constant reminder of how much I depend on God.
And then I think about the blessings America has, even in the face of this crisis. This is the most generous and productive nation on earth. Ours is the most successful experiment in self-government in human history. And for all its faults and warts, America has always reached out to the poor, the suffering, the needy. It has never lost its sense of destiny—that we have a purpose in the world, which is to bring hope and freedom to people, and to care for the lost and suffering. We live in a great country!
Sure I get frustrated with the Church, but look at how the Gospel is spreading. Decades ago, who could have imagined the flourishing of the church in the global South, or that there would be a hundred million Christians in China.
So I’m not going to let the current worries of the world, which are many and weighty, take away from me the joy of being able to thank my Creator, my God, not only for our life in this country, but for His church, for redemption, for the hope which is given to everyone of us in the Kingdom of God.
Today the Colson family gathers—the children, the grandchildren, Patty and I—and we will be giving our profound thanks to our God. In Him we have total trust and confidence.
May it be so with you and yours this Thanksgiving.
From BreakPoint®, November 27, 2008, Copyright 2008, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “BreakPoint®” and “Prison Fellowship Ministries®” are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship