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Miracle At Thanksgiving


The following facts are not the ones you usually hear in contemporary accounts of the Pilgrims’ history. What actually happened can best be described as an apparent miracle from God. The events concerning the miracle involve the days that followed the first Thanksgiving celebration at Plymouth. What happened is that though the Pilgrims rejoiced that they had food to tide them over, and gave God the glory for his providential care, they ran severely short of food in the following months. Just one month after their celebration, the first ship from home dropped off thirty-five unexpected people called “Adventurers,” but they brought no food, no clothing, no tools, and no bedding with them. So the Pilgrims, true to their Christian heritage, made the decision to go to half-rations in November and share their food with the newcomers, with hopes that they would all make it to the summer. They were practically starving that winter, eating their tiny little meals, praying the whole time, but not one person was lost to starvation which was a miracle in itself. Spring finally arrived, but the hardship wasn’t over yet. There was a severe drought that lasted through the summer. Week followed after week with no rain at all. The crops had been planted and had sprouted and come up in the spring, and had grown about midway up, and now they were just sitting there dying in the fields. This particular crop was really needed after having such hard times in their first year and a half in America. The situation was desperate, and people’s hopes were starting to die. Not knowing what to do, Governor Bradford decided to have everyone turn to God by ordering the colony to set aside a whole day for nothing but fasting and prayer. Then - the miracle occurred. Here’s the actual account of the miracle, as recorded by Governor Bradford in his own journal: “I may not here omit how, notwithstanding all their great pains and industry, and the great hopes of a large crop, the Lord seemed to blast, and take away the same, and to threaten further and more sore famine unto them. By a great drought which continued from the third week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain and with great heat for the most part, insomuch as the corn began to wither away though it was set with fish, the moisture whereof helped it much. Yet at length it began to languish sore, and some of the drier grounds were parched like withered hay, part whereof was never recovered. They set apart a solemn day of fasting, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in this great distress. And He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indians’ admiration that lived amongst them. For all the morning, and the greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen; yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God. It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked and therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed corn and other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold. And afterwards the Lord sent such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.” That is the miracle of the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving — the first Thanksgiving where the actual-real-historic proclamation of a day of thanksgiving was made by Bradford. After three months of no rain, with dying plants, heaven literally opened up and the crops in a sense were born again. In fact, the harvest that fall was so abundant that they ended up with a surplus of food and seed. These facts concerning the Pilgrims aren’t often repeated nowadays. Maybe this is the first time you’ve ever heard of the miracle of 1623. But this is the season that Americans celebrate the Pilgrim’s “Thanksgiving,” and so from now on, you can celebrate Thanksgiving knowing why the original Pilgrims in 1623, as Bradford said, “set apart a day of thanksgiving.” We should never forget that God in His great mercy has given us more than we deserve, and more than we appreciate at times. It is human nature to take for granted the many blessings that we experience each moment. Our tendency throughout the day, is not to thank God, but rather to complain. But God wants us to be thankful. The Scriptures exhort us to “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever…” (1 Chronicles 16:34.) So, what God wants is that we give thanks to him. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 We are to be thankful in everything. “...giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Ephesians 5:20 God desires that we always give thanks for all things so that each day will be “a solemn day set apart and appointed for thanksgiving, wherein we return glory, honor, and praise, with all thankfulness to our God, who deals so graciously with us, whose name for these and all other his mercies towards his Church and chosen ones, by them be blessed and praised now and evermore, Amen.” Excerpted from Rev. Henry’s sermon, “The Miracle of Thanksgiving.”