Thanksgiving Devotion Nov 21
Written by: Ray Jones
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:23-28; Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:18
As we look forward next week to the Thanksgiving holidays, we should remember that we have been celebrating Thanksgiving in our country for almost 300 years. Thanksgiving in the United States had its origin a few months following the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620. In this new, unexplored world, they faced a brutal first winter, including exposure to the elements, near starvation, outbreaks of contagious diseases and the loss of about half of the new settlers who did not live to see their first New England spring. However, after surviving the winter and completion of the first harvest, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast in November 1621. The celebration is now remembered as America’s “first Thanksgiving”, lasting for three days during which the Pilgrims expressed their gratitude and thankfulness to God for their blessings.
When we celebrated Thanksgiving last year, little did we know that the celebration in 2020 would look much different. We began the year 2020 with excitement and optimism. However, as the winter chill yielded to a refreshing springtime, we also received a surprise–Covid-19. The dreaded virus invaded our country and, indeed, the rest of our world. In a matter of weeks, our lives were turned topsy-turvy. Nearly every aspect of our lives was impacted, including widespread unemployment, food lines for the hungry, limitations of in-person religious services, restricted travel, the unfortunate loss of lives and much more. Almost instantly, our normal was replaced with a “new normal.”
In the midst of difficulties, I am frequently drawn to the words and example of the Apostle Paul. From the moment Paul was blinded by the light from heaven on the Damascus road, he suffered greatly for the rest of his life as a follower of Jesus. In the 2 Corinthian passage referred to above, Paul records how he was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, five times received thirty-nine lashes, imprisoned and much more. Yet, Paul persevered and rose above every difficulty. In the Philippian and Thessalonian passages he confirms how he learned to be content in whatever circumstances he encountered. Further, he rose above and gave thanks to God for everything—what an example for us to emulate.
Just as with the Pilgrims and Paul, all of whom persevered and rose above the hardships, today we are challenged to do the same. In the midst of the temporary dark clouds that may be swirling around our lives, we are called upon to rise above it all and find the “silver lining,” which of course, is Jesus. As we express our gratitude and thankfulness to the Christ for our blessings, we know he will be at our sides, holding our hands, and walking step-by-step with us through the valleys of our lives. When we reach the other side, he will be there to share in our joy. Let’s meet the challenge during our celebrations next week.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the many blessings we enjoy in spite of difficult circumstances. We ask that you shower your blessings on those carrying especially heavy burdens this year so they will know you are their God, who is always there to offer your love. Amen