A Grateful Heart is Not a Once-a-Year Event

Nena Arias | November 12, 2023

“In everything give thanks”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

It matters not what men might say, we clearly see in Scripture that the design of all creation is birthed in the heart of God. Even the design of nations for He is the Highest over all the earth as it is ever so evident in the history of our nation.

Parting from that premise, throughout human history, those who are wise will always recognize that every good gift comes from the mighty hand of our Creator; the Pilgrims knew this very well.

When that recognition happens it is inevitable to experience deep gratitude as we see our loving heavenly Father’s handiworks especially in the face of adversity and overwhelming challenges such as the Pilgrims confronted as they were led by the hand of God to come to these shores and give birth to a nation that would play a very important role in God’s design and purpose for the world.

Thanksgiving has always been a part of the wise that have a correct focus of things as intended by the Almighty.

The very first thing Noah did as he disembarked from the ark after that awesome manifestation of God’s power and grace in the experience of the flood was an act of thanksgiving in offering a sacrifice upon an altar.

Wise people will always acknowledge that in spite of their hard work nothing good would happen without the blessings of our heavenly Father. God reminded Israel of this as He led them into the Promised Land when He said: “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…otherwise when you eat and are satisfied…and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:10-14). The Psalmist also tells us to, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

As you can see a spirit of thanksgiving is not just something the Pilgrims initiated, but we must credit them that they knew God was doing a new thing and they acknowledged His hand in this, they gave Him credit and were thankful.

In September of 1620, a small wooden ship called the Mayflower set sail from England, headed for the New World. Crowded on board were 102 passengers most of them Christian families who believed that God was leading them to establish a new community where they could worship freely. After sixty-five days of tossing on the sea through turbulent storms, seasickness, terrible food, and no sanitation, these Pilgrims arrived on the shores of the New World.

After much hardship and sickness that took the life of half of those 102 passengers, by October 1621, with the help of friendly Indians with whom they had formed a peace pact, and who also taught the settlers how to grow crops, the Pilgrims’ hope of a new life was strengthened. Their hearts were full of gratitude for renewed health, an abundant harvest, and for peace they enjoyed with the Indians.

William Bradford, the new governor, declared that Plymouth should hold a thanksgiving festival and invite the settlement’s Indian friends as special guests. The date was set, and the invitation delivered to Chief Massasoit.

The menu was impressive: venison, goose, lobster and other seafood, vegetables, and dried fruits. A special treat was provided by the Indians. They placed corn on hot coals, and to the surprise of the settlers, the kernels blew into white puffs—popcorn!

How grateful we should be that it was a spirit of thankfulness that came over the Pilgrims and not pride and arrogance. It was gratitude that permeated their entire being and way of life as they reflected on God’s goodness. To the degree that the first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians at Plymouth in 1621 set an example for all Americans to follow and celebrate to this day, albeit, sad to say, for many, not in the same connotation.

Before they began to eat, the Pilgrims offered a prayer to the God who had so clearly and miraculously led them to this place. Though they had suffered much, God had blessed them abundantly, and they sincerely offered Him their thanks and praise.

The Bible teaches us to always cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. God’s true children are called to give thanks to God for everything—and not only to be thankful but to rejoice: “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (Psalm 95:2). Counting our blessings and reading Bible verses about thankfulness to God has a way of filling us with hope. God’s Word and wisdom is a treasure trove in all things.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11)

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

As you gather with your loved ones to observe this Thanksgiving Day, may this overwhelming spirit of gratitude that set the tone for our great nation be present in your heart and that of your loved ones. May thanks and praise fill our households as we acknowledge God’s goodness every day.

“In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).