April Motl Christian Blog and Commentary

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Thoughts on Thankfulness

  • April Motl

    April Motlis a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist-deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, being a wife, and serving at church, she writes and teaches…

  • Updated Nov 25, 2013

Last year we were living in New England and we went down to the Plimouth Plantation around Thanksgiving. The re-created village made the lives of those first settlers all the more real. Dark, cramped shacks with little ventilation from fireplaces, huddled together for life and liberty made their sacrifices almost tangible. Leaving all they had once known to make a fresh life where they and their future generations might be free to worship God required much from them. The trip over was difficult. A little more than 130 people (crew and colonists) fit on a ship that to me looked like it could fit 25 comfortably, 50 reasonably, but certainly not the numbers they carried - with supplies, cargo, food and livestock as well! After the arduous 65 day journey, it is recorded that William Brewster led the pilgrims in the reading of Psalm 100:

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. 
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing. 
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name. 
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
More than half of the original colony died of disease by the end of the first year. At one point, only six or seven remained well enough to cook, clean and care for the others who'd fallen ill. 

In light of all their hardships and losses I was struck afresh by their attitude of thankfulness.  I was and still am amazed at their steadfast faith. They didn't endure the loss of life and comforts only to turn with distrust and hurt away from God. They did not allow their questions, pain or loss to define God. Their faith in His goodness, love and sovereignty are captured in their writings, journals and prayerbooks. 
Bradford wrote of the Plymouth pilgrims:
“So they committed themselves to the will of God, and resolved to proceed.”
“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”

This Thanksgiving, I pray that my gratitude might be rooted in the character and nature of God more than my ever-changing circumstances--and it’s my prayer for you too. Out of all that has been this last year, our plenty and our loss, may we see the small beginnings of God doing something good and great within and through us. And in our gratitude may our lives be a bright light declaring the praise and glory of our Lord’s name!
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16
Here's a few more Thankfulness tidbits I hope will be a blessing to you:
For a list of Thanksgiving activities and a pdf. of thanksgiving Scripture place cards for your dinner table--join our e-devotions list and this fun little Thanksgiving gift will be sent to your inbox :)
Thankful for... that? How to find gratitude for the bumps, hiccups, disappointments and even failures in your marriage
Bringing a Sacrifice of Praise God doesn't expect us to live out of touch with the reality of pain, grief and disappointment--so how can we be grateful amidst the hurts of life?
PS- I'd love to see what you're thankful for this year! Leave a comment here to share a little of your gratitude list :)