I have always appreciated reality more than fantasy–actual history compared to fictional stories. There is something about hearing a true story that speaks clearly and powerfully to the heart.
Not that imaginative story-telling cannot be helpful and instructive. Jesus’ use of parables is a good example. But there is something about a real struggle and the lessons learned that reaches our inner being and shouts, “that can be you too.”
During this special week when the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, I want to share two true stories to enlarge your grateful heart. Both are a testament that thankfulness is often forged in the furnace of affliction.
It is suffering that produces the true heart of Thanksgiving.
Recently I joined a conference call with Dr. Paul Jehle, the unofficial historian of Plymouth, Massachusetts celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Compact. This incredible document, the first political expression of biblical ideas in the New World, had profound impact on American history.
This Thanksgiving we should thank our brave Pilgrim forefathers for their vision, wisdom and sacrifice that led to the making of the United States.
I learned that truth thirty-two years ago through a visit to New England (as recorded in my journal).
My visit to Plymouth Rock.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American “holy day” that arose out of the deep faith of our spiritual ancestors–the Pilgrims–who came to these shores in November of 1620. Other nations celebrate it (like Canada to the north), and Israel enjoyed many holidays that were used to give gratitude to God.
But our American Thanksgiving is different. It came from a community of New Testament believers who not only grasped the importance of thanking God in all things, but experienced a providential act they never forgot.