God’s Providence: A Thanksgiving Story

It is 1620 and the Patuxet brave was looking at his homeland in disbelief.  He had been gone for over five years.  And, now as he looks at what had once been a thriving Patuxet village, he saw that everyone and everything was gone.  His entire tribe and family had been wiped out by a plague just a short time before his return.  He is the only Patuxet left alive.
Tisquantum (or Squanto as he was known by the English) had been abducted by an English explorer named Thomas Hunt along with 23 other braves in 1614.  They were taken to the slave market in Malaga, Spain.  A group of Franciscan monks who wanted to save as many of the braves as they could bought Squanto. They taught him Spanish, English and about Jesus Christ.  He became a very educated man and, more importantly, a Christian. His desire to return home was so strong that the monks helped him get to England, and from there, he was able to return to his homeland.
With nothing left, Squanto headed south to the Wampanoag village.  Massasoit, the powerful Wampanoag chief, took pity on Squanto and allowed him to join the tribe.  Squanto had lost all reason for living and joining the Wampanoag tribe did not take that feeling away.
It is November 9, 1620, and the lookout for the Mayflower rings out, “Land ho!”  Finally, after 66 days at sea, the travel-weary group is at the end of their journey.   Without waiting for permission from the Master, they rush to the deck to get their first glimpse of the long, sandy stretch of beach before them.  It is identified by one of the pilots as Cape Cod.  A storm had blown them off course about 100 miles north of the Hudson River.  Being so far from any English government and under no authority, the Pilgrim leaders knew they needed to act quickly and decisively to forestall mutiny.  They wrote the Mayflower Compact and it was signed by all the men in the group.  This is the first time in history that free men covenanted together to create their own civil government based on Biblical principles.  They must now find a suitable place to settle.
The land is rich and fertile, there is a broad, open, gentle slope to the water’s edge, excellent drainage, easy to defend, four spring-fed streams close by and a good 20 acres that are already cleared.  They have found it!  The perfect place for a settlement.  Although they can see evidence of some terrible disaster that had befallen the previous residents, they do not know that God has directed them to the only land in New England that is not owned by anyone.   They name the new colony Plymouth.
The Pilgrims persuaded Captain Jones to stay in harbor with the Mayflower through the winter so they can have shelter as the men work to get the settlement built.  Little do they know that it will be a hard winter.  The men work through sickness and severe cold to complete the buildings.  They have no other choice because the work must get done.  Almost half of the original group died during that first winter.
Samoset, an Algonquin chief from Maine, walks into the settlement and greets the Pilgrims.  His broken English is good enough to communicate with them.  He provides them with the history of the land they have settled and the surrounding tribes.  He stayed overnight, then left.  Samoset continues his journey south to Massasoit’s village to visit his friend.  He told them about the English colonists that have settled on Patuxet land.
It has been a week since Samoset had shown up in the colony.  Now he is back with a second Indian, Squanto.  The colonists learn about Squanto’s journey, being kidnapped not once, but twice, educated in Spain and England, taught about Christianity by the Spanish monks and then returning home only six months before the Pilgrims arrived.  Due to the extraordinary “coincidences” in his life, William Bradford calls Squanto “a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectations”.  And Squanto found a reason to live.  It is to teach the colonists how to survive, how to fish, how to hunt and plant crops.
Massasoit and 60 of his warriors came with Samoset and Squanto for a visit.  From his visit, there comes a peace treaty of mutual aid and assistance that would last 40 years until Massasoit’s death.  The colonists know that Massasoit is probably the only chief in New England that would have been friendly to them and they take great care not to abuse his kindness and friendship.
The summer of 1621 is beautiful and productive.  New buildings are built, trade relations are forged with Indian tribes, and crops are planted.  The fall harvest is so bountiful they have more than enough to get them through the winter and the following summer.  The Pilgrims are so full of gratitude for Squanto, their friendship with Massasoit and the Wampanoag’s and, above all, to their God.  They have trusted Him, and He has not let them down.  So, Governor Bradford declared a public day of Thanksgiving to be held in October.
Massasoit arrives a day early with 90 of his braves.  This was an opportunity for despair since such a large group would drastically deplete their food supplies.  But Massasoit does not arrive empty-handed.  He commanded his braves to hunt for the occasion and they arrive with no less than five deer and twelve wild turkeys.  They show the women how to make hoecakes, cornmeal pudding, maple syrup and an Indian delicacy, popcorn.  In turn, the Pilgrims provide their vegetables, make fruit pies and sweet wine from grapes.
There are shooting contests between the Pilgrims and Indians, foot races, leg wrestling and military drills by Captain Myles Standish.  Things go so well, the first day of Thanksgiving extends to a three day celebration.
William Brewster’s prayer at the beginning of the festival was one all the Pilgrims would remember.  They had so much for which to thank God:  for providing all their needs, even when their faith had not been up to believing that He would actually do so; for the lives of the departed and for taking them home to be with Him; for their friendship with the Indians (especially when other settlements had experienced the opposite); and for all His wonderful providences in bringing them to this place and sustaining them.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American celebration.  It is a time to remember what God did for the Pilgrims, His hand in the life of Squanto, His protection, and His providence.  America is the ONLY country on earth that was founded on the Word of God for the sole purpose of being able to freely worship Almighty God.  Israel was raised up BY God as His chosen people and America was founded by believers FOR God.