Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.
As November 2020 arrives in America, it is important to remember that 400 years ago this month the Mayflower Pilgrims made landfall at Cape Code, Massachusetts. It is stated in the Mayflower Compact that they established the Plymouth Colony “for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.”
Even though half their numbers died the first year, the colonists gave thanks to Almighty God, thus enshrining the disposition of ‘thanksgiving’ as a national virtue. Four hundred years later, we continue to celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday. It is vintage Americana — something to be treasured in our national history and heritage.
But it is not only history and heritage. To be sure, it is also appropriate — yes, necessary — for the creature to be grateful to the Creator from whom all blessings flow. In fact, without thanksgiving, specifically to God, it is hardly possible to embrace or extend any other noble quality. It has been said that “gratitude is the fountainhead of all other virtues.” And it is noteworthy that, as Sir Walter Scott said, “Ingratitude comprehendeth every vice.” The descent into depravity described by Paul in Romans 1:18-32 is a downward spiral that begins with “not honoring God or giving thanks” (vs. 21). Much is at stake as per the expression, or lack thereof, of gratitude. No wonder the psalmist says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 92:1).
In this year of the COVID pandemic, trials, troubles and tribulations have become a fixture in daily life. 2020 has been a year not far-removed from our 1620 Pilgrim Forebears. Would we, could we, in like-sign of those gone before pause to render thanks to our “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions” (II Corinthians 1:3-4)?
We not only would or could, but we must. Indeed every moment we are beneficiaries of a Great Benefactor who has given of Himself in Christ to save us from peril, especially the peril of our own sin and fallenness. That is why Paul exclaims, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).
This November, let us be compelled by our faith heritage of the Bible and our national heritage of 1620 to be exceedingly grateful. Even though there are burdens to bear, may we be reminded that in the midst of it all there are blessings to receive? Blessings come in many and mysterious ways, but come they do. There is no better example than the Cross of Jesus. In its very shadow, Scripture says, “He gave thanks” (II Corinthians 11:24).
Thanks for the Cross? Thanks for crosses to bear? How can it be? By knowing and believing our God is all-loving and all-powerful. What He leads us to, He leads us through. 1620 pilgrims on a voyage rocked by waves and 2020 pilgrims in a world rocked by COVID are both beneficiaries of Him who calms the storm, heals our disease, and saves our soul. Let us give Him thanks.
Ed Clevinger is minister of Grace Christian Church in Kingsport.