By Pastor Ron Buxton
The story is told of an elderly woman who was known for being loud about her faith. In the apartment complex where she lived, she could be heard praying and singing praises to God as she went about her daily tasks. She was not obnoxious, mind you, but didn’t seem to care what others thought. And although unusual to her housing project, she was much beloved among her neighbors there.
One day, however, a new tenant moved across the hallway from her. He wasn’t exactly appreciative of her “religious” demeanor, and decided to mock her any chance that he got. As an atheist, this young man cringed every time he heard her praying on the balcony or singing in the kitchen. Constantly, he would tell her that there was no God. And with every spiteful–and sometimes vulgar–thing that he said to her, she would answer back with kindness and a smile. Unfortunately, this only made him more incensed.
Because this older woman lived on a fixed income, money was tight some times near the end of the month. As she was praying to God, on one such occasion, that contentious new neighbor overheard her. Wanting to mock her, he quickly went to the store and purchased several large bags of groceries. After ringing her doorbell, he ran behind the corner of the stairwell to hide.
Surprised to see the food left at the doorstep, she started shouting, “Thank You, Jesus! Hallelujah!”
“Ha!”, blurted out her neighbor, as he appeared from behind the corner. He snarled, “I bought those groceries. God didn’t. Like I told you, there is no God!”
Not startled, however, the woman began to jump up and down, clapping her hands. She exclaimed, “Thank You, Jesus! You not only sent me groceries, but You made the Devil pay for them!”
All kidding aside, I want to write about Thanksgiving today. You see, Thanksgiving should be more than one day in November. It should be a heart attitude. Unfortunately, our society has drifted away from what that holiday did, at one time, represent. This article is my small contribution to remind us all of Divine Providence.
The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620 and braved the harsh North Atlantic ocean for two whole months. Although their intentions were to settle around the southern areas of the new colonies, they arrived at Plymouth Rock–a climate and terrain that they did not expect. In addition, they arrived in the winter and in the middle of a regional famine. Nearly half of the Pilgrims died before Spring.
As a pious group of individuals, they sought God Almighty for their very survival in that strange and hostile land. William Bradford led those early colonists, and in direct answer to prayer, a Native-American named Squanto from the neighboring Wampanoag tribe befriended them. The entire collaboration was providential, and everyone knew it. In fact, in his diary, Bradford referred to Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for our good.”
The successful harvest that following summer, which was due to their prayers and cooperation, led Bradford to declare a three day feast on that December of 1621.It was proclaimed to be a time of Thanksgiving to God. About ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the approximately fifty Pilgrims on that very first festival. Both groups knew that the supernatural providence of God, in answer to their fervent prayers, had prevailed!
Acts 14:17 records: “Nevertheless He [God] left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
Remember the Pilgrims! We might not have buckles on our hats and shoes anymore, but we also should recognize God’s provision! Happy Thanksgiving [to God] Day!