Even though they were facing a hard winter in a strange place, the Pilgrims set aside time to give thanks to God for His provision in a strange new land. Their attitude was key to their happiness. In modern America, and across much of the modern developed world, we do not give thanks in the way the Pilgrims did, even on Thanksgiving. How many of us live in a spirit of gratitude, with humble appreciation for the many blessings God has given us, and how many of us dwell on the perceived shortcomings in our lives? How many of us, like Martha in the famous Bible story, stress ourselves to the max striving for the perfect home and the perfect meal to the point that we completely lose sight of the reason we've gathered to celebrate in the first place?
The pilgrims were not plagued with such frenzied spirits, and for that reason they were able to give thanks joyfully despite the many uncertainties in the road ahead. Because they were men and women of faith, they knew that contentment and security is to be found not in this material world but in spiritual union with the Savior, Jesus Christ. They knew that their future was in His hands, and with that conviction they were free to joyfully celebrate the harvest and their many blessings. They also understood that the chief end of man was to worship God and enjoy Him forever. Contentment was to be found in Christ, not in their circumstances.
When we deny our design and reject our purpose, however (as we moderns have largely done), all we are left with is the spirit of discontentment and envy that Madison Avenue profits from. When we fall prey to the myth that the good life is found in the abundance of our possessions, we are setting ourselves up for perpetual disappointment.
But there is another way. Through union with Christ, there is a joy that cannot be found in material possessions: a peace and contentment that passes all understanding. This is the promise of the Resurrection, a promise that no ad-man and no amount of stuff can ever match. As we conclude this year's Thanksgiving celebration, we should all take a step back from the frenzy and chaos of the holiday season to meditate on the blessings that will last for eternity.
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