With the economy still troubled and unemployment figures struggling to right themselves, thankfulness may be in short supply for many Americans this year. The early Pilgrims encountered extreme hardship as well. But their response is instructive.

The Pilgrims’ effort to colonize America was fraught with challenge from the moment they stepped foot on the Mayflower. The journey across the Atlantic Ocean took 65 days in cold, damp, and miserable conditions. A number of the passengers became ill, and one person died before they reached the shore of their new home.

Once their vessel landed at Plymouth in mid-November, their troubles were only beginning. Winter was upon them, and the cold and snow frustrated their efforts to establish a settlement. Over 100 Pilgrims had arrived in the new land, but less than 50 survived the harsh winter. Despite this adversity, the Pilgrims’ governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to God for His grace and provision.

What a lesson for us today. Despite all the Pilgrims had lost and the horrible circumstances they endured, they still gave thanks for what they had – however little or much that may have been. Their sense of thanks had increased through their trials, not diminished.

Americans collectively have faced incredible challenges over the past several years. Maybe you’ve individually had your own battles to fight. But our nation’s spirit is strong, and God deserves our thanks for carrying us through.

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