The Real Story of Thanksgiving Day

Native American chief

What do you imagine when you think of the first Thanksgiving? Prim people in black hats with buckles, dressed in crisp outfits with white collars? Instead, imagine tired moms and dads, thrilled to finally have enough food for their hungry children. Picture Wampanoag warriors, hauling in whole deer as their contribution to the meal. The tables weren’t beautifully appointed with chic centerpieces and fine flatware; most of the guests probably sat on the ground or on nearby tree stumps, eating from wooden bowls.

For the Pilgrims, that year had been brutal. Many people they loved had died from accidents, privation, or illness. Their shining dream of a free Promised Land had melted into the grim reality of dark, dense forest and hard, unbroken ground.

The American Indians looked out from the sheltering boughs of that wild forest, and they saw haggard, white-faced men and women, slow and stumbling from weariness and lack of food. The tribes saw that these newcomers had the will to survive. All they lacked was knowledge—and enough supplies to give them a second chance.

And then came the wonder that makes Thanksgiving so special. Although they did not know Him, God moved in the hearts of those Native Americans, planting seeds of mercy. With the Wampanoags’ help the Pilgrims had a bountiful harvest, and Governor William Bradford invited everyone to feast and celebrate.

That first Thanksgiving feast went on for three days. No one forgot the sadness of the past months, but they let joy and gratitude overflow instead. They lived out Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.”

Thanksgiving Day exists to remind us of all the blessings and gifts of the year, especially the ones that fill your heart so full of gladness so that sorrow has no room—the small arms of a child around your neck, the laugh of someone you cherish, the smile of a friend.

So “let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . . and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15–17).

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Rebecca K. is a work-at-home freelance writer, a novelist, a wife, and a mom of two bright-eyed little ones. She credits her success in writing and her love of books to her mom, who homeschooled three kids from pre-K through high school.


A sword can be either a physical object, such as the one David used to slay Goliath, or an abstract concept, such as the sword of the Spirit. Any way you slice it, there is intensity when a sword is mentioned in Scripture. Notice in the following verses how the sword of the Spirit—God’s Word—is fit for every circumstance.

cover image of Wonderful Words

“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword” (Genesis 3:24). “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians. 6:17). “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit” (Hebrews. 4:12). “And out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword” (Revelation 1:16).


Golden thought: Take the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Excerpt adapted from Wonderful Words by Stewart Custer (November 25 reading).


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Linking Up for Thanksgiving

4 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Meaningful from the BJU Press blog

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book cover for Wonderful Words by Stewart Custer

I realize that physical strength may actually have little or nothing to do with inner strength. But when feeling physically weak, my perception of things can be affected. I can become downcast, but suppose that I am spiritually weak as well. Christ … [Continue reading]

Education in the New World

drawing of teacher with young students in a New England school room from the book America's Story for America's Children

I remember my parents being criticized by many family members for taking us out of the public schools. But just like thousands of other Christian families today, my parents didn’t want their kids influenced by the agenda of modern society. Today’s … [Continue reading]