What is the Story of Thanksgiving?
Most of us live in a free world. By definition we are able to act as we wish to and aren’t restricted by much. It can be easy to feel trapped or less than free in today’s society, but objectively we have a freedom that many will never have on this earth. In terms of religion, we might feel like others are against us. In reality, the church is becoming less popular, but we live in a space with the freedom to speak up in the name of the Lord.
I have never had to worry about traveling with a Bible in my backpack. I can stop at a streetlight with my car windows down and have worship music playing on the radio. I don’t have to worry that others will hear. I have read my Bible in a public setting and I don’t have to be afraid that someone might see. I can speak openly and honestly when others ask what I believe and even when they disagree with me, I know that I can confidently still speak that truth.
Too many people don’t get to feel that religious freedom. There are spaces where associating with the Church and the God of the Bible can cost you your life. There are people who choose that the Church and the God of the Bible are worth dying for because they know who God is and know it could mean that more people have a chance at a changed eternity.
We’ve all heard the story of the first Thanksgiving but before that happened there was a desperate search for religious freedom. Pilgrim is defined as someone who journeys for religious reasons, a worshipper, a devoted believer. Before there was the Thanksgiving story, there was a group of people unable to worship in line with their beliefs and that group of people were willing to do anything to gain that religious freedom. So, they left everything familiar and later became the pilgrims that we learned about in grade school.
Find Freedom, Find Thankfulness
The first Thanksgiving demonstrated that the root of gratitude and thankfulness is freedom. We have so much to be thankful for, but what is our thankfulness grounded in? I know I don’t thank God enough for the freedom he has given me. I take for granted the smallest things. Like the fact that i’m currently typing this in a public space and that when people ask what I do, I can proudly respond without serious consequences. I get to spend my life working for God and telling His truth. When I reshape my heart and start with freedom my entire worldview changes and I begin to see people and the world through the lens of the Lord.
The beauty of freedom is that it isn’t rooted in the circumstances that we reside in but in Christ himself. We can’t control every situation we become involved in, but we can rest in the reality that when we have Jesus at the center of who we are, we already have ultimate eternal freedom.
We can have peace and confidence in knowing that when we have earthly freedom or not, our heavenly freedom is unchanging. Whether or not we have a full refrigerator or we have no idea where our next meal will come from, we can trust that God sees us and will take care of us, forever.
Just like Paul writes from prison in Philippians 4:11-12, we too can stand firm in our reality that with Jesus we are truly free and have everything to be thankful for and nothing to lack. We can be in constant thanksgiving because we know we are eternally free.