For this, we can be truly thankful

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Capt.) Robert Schobert
  • 8th Fighter Wing deputy wing chaplain
The Pilgrims landed in the New World in the winter of 1621. We celebrate their arrival in our history classes and their survival at our Thanksgiving tables every year.

But how often do we consider their struggle to survive and their faith that saw them through? Of the 109 that landed that day, almost half were dead before the next fall. In fact, only five wives had survived that first year. Harsh cold winter, starvation, Indian raids and sickness had taken its toll on these people.

They had no food, except for what they could catch or grow. They had no clothes except the few they brought. They had no homes except those they could build themselves. They had no transportation except their own legs. They had no automatic deposits in their retirement accounts, no clothing allowance to ensure they never went naked and no housing allowance to pay the rent.

They had no dining facility, no bowling alley, no Exchange and no commissary. They had no money to buy life's necessities and nowhere to spend it if they had. Every day was a challenge and a struggle just to survive.

Yet, the following proclamation was made by Governor William Bradford in 1623, two years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth;

To all ye Pilgrims,

Inasmuch as the great father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the raids of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

Did you catch what he said? They were to gather for three hours to express to God their thankfulness. In the present circumstances, it was their faith in God that made them truly a grateful people.

Are you a grateful person? Thanksgiving is coming. It's the one day in which we, like those early Pilgrims, set aside time to give thanks to God. The Bible says that we are to "be joyful always; pray continually; and give thanks in all circumstances."

During this assignment, your circumstances are certainly not ideal. You're being tested. Your strength and endurance are challenged every day. But you know what? You're doing it. You are stronger than you thought you were. You are more capable than you imagined. You are meeting the challenges head-on. We all are.

And for this, we can be truly thankful.