Edward Winslow wrote in A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth (1621):
- . . . 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.
By the goodness of God, we are far from want. In fact, we have never known want like that of the Pilgrims. Giving up their homeland, leaving for an unknown shore across an unfriendly sea, suffering disease and starvation. For what?
We often think of all the Pilgrims had to be thankful for this season as we partake in the season’s feasting. But how often do we think of all they had to mourn?
More than half of them died in the first “general sickness” as William Bradford called it. And yet when the harvest came in and alliances were made with the local natives and strength returned to the survivors, they were able to turn their grief into thanksgiving, their despair into praise.
The holidays are a difficult time for me. Not just because little Mattias isn’t here, but because the anniversary of his death is right between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The anxiety increases until it almost seems as if his death were something that is about to happen rather than something that happened already.
And how do you give thanks in the midst of losing a child? And what for?
The pilgrims sought a wealth few of us think on today. As the closing two verses of The Landing of the Pilgrims so eloquently say,
- What sought they thus afar?
- Bright jewels of the mine?
- The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?–
- They sought a faith’s pure shrine!
- Ay, call it holy ground,
- The soil where first they trod.
- They have left unstained what there they found–
- Freedom to worship God.
Freedom to worship a God who gives and takes away.
Freedom to worship a God who sacrificed His own son, that we might live.
Freedom to worship a God who said death is not the end.
Freedom to worship a God who gives me hope, even in the face of such a terrible loss.
And that truly is a thing to be thankful for.
If you post what you are thankful for this week, feel free to drop a link in the comments. I’d love to check out what you are thankful for this season!