I love history. When I was younger, I was taught that our Thanksgiving Day observance goes back to 1621, the first harvest after the Pilgrims arrived. Pictures of Indians and Pilgrims together fill my mind. And then I found that while this is a neat picture, it is not the real story. Thanksgiving Day actually comes from events two years later in 1623. The Pilgrims had moved from a communal approach to every family planting their own crops. These individual farm plots were successful up until a hot late summer with little or no rain. The crops wilted. Gov. Bradford called the community to prayer and the Lord responded with rain. The crops rebounded and the harvest was plentiful. They celebrated a day of Thanksgiving to the Lord.
Psalm 42 reminds me of the wilting times of life. I read it this morning again. At one point, the psalmist lamented: These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
He then pauses amidst his depression and acknowledges the Lord's presence in his life. His affirmation was this: By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me--a prayer to the God of my life. That is like having the rain fall on the wilted crops. He then comes to a powerful, hope-filled conclusion: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Harvest time is coming when a day of Thanksgiving can be celebrated.
On this Thanksgiving day, I know there are some who are in the wilted time. Struggles, broken relationships, grief, financial challenges loneliness. While any sensitive heart would wish we could take those seasons away for others, the reality is we can't. But we can encourage one another as Gov. Bradford and the community did, by seeking the Lord with each other. Today, we pray for you who are in the wilted time, crying with you for "rain" to come from the Lord. As we put our hope in the Lord in the midst of the depressed times, we can be reassured that harvest time is coming.
"I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."