Read Philippians 4:10–20.
The original plan for the first Thanksgiving, held in the fall of 1621, was to celebrate a successful harvest with three days of fasting. The pilgrims of Plymouth later decided to invite the Wampanoag tribe—the Native Americans who had helped them secure their footing in the New World—to join them for a feast instead.
Today, Thanksgiving weekend is also a three-day event. It begins on Thursday when some of the most eager stores open up early for Black Friday. Then, of course, there’s Black Friday proper and Cyber Monday. Three days of shopping, splurging, and—all too often—shoving. Yes, sandwiched in between the sales and the spending is usually a family meal with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, but all too often it’s difficult to recognize the spirit of those first pilgrims in our celebrations.
According to many historians, it’s estimated that there were only five women present among the 50 or so English settlers at the first Thanksgiving. And it’s not because they were all at home baking pies for dessert. It’s believed that most of the women who sailed to America on the Mayflower, along with many men and children, died, either on the voyage or during that first winter. Yet those who survived gave thanks to God, recognizing His goodness despite their monumental losses.
This type of thankfulness—this sort of contentment—is wonderfully biblical. In Philippians, Paul says he has discovered the secret to this kind of heart, “whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (4:12). He writes, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (4:13; emphasis added). Those pilgrims, like Paul, discovered that Jesus plus nothing is just as satisfying as Jesus plus everything. Either way, there’s cause to be thankful.