by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Psalm 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Most of you know the story an Indian named Squanto and his first thanksgiving celebration with the Pilgrims. However, you might not know that over a decade before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, English traders were trading with the Indians throughout the region. Squanto’s amazing story really originated then.
An Englishman named Captain Hunter had kidnapped several Indians and sold them into slavery, one of whom was Squanto, sold into slavery in Malaga, Spain. There, Squanto was bought by a Spanish monk, who treated him well, freed him from slavery, and taught him about Christianity. Eventually, Squanto made it back to England, and worked in the stables of a man named John Slaney. It was there that Squanto learned English.
Upon Squanto’s return home in 1618, he learned that his tribe had been wiped out from an epidemic, probably smallpox brought by early English colonists. As you might imagine, he was devastated and couldn’t understand how God could allow this to happen.
Shortly afterward, a friend named Samoset introduced him to the Pilgrims. Because of Squanto’s history and understanding of English, Squanto was able to communicate with them. He also taught them how to survive there, how to fish, hunt, and how to plant corn. As a result, Governor William Bradford asked him to serve as his ambassador to the Indian tribes. Bradford accredited Squanto for the survival of the Pilgrim colony and saw that without God's providential hand in providing Squanto — the colony would not have survived.
When I first heard the story of Squanto, it reminded me of the story of Joseph and the providence of God, even in the worst of situations. Joseph was sold into slavery, thrown into prison, accused and abused…. but all of these things were worked out for the purpose of saving the Jewish people. The story of the survival of the Plymouth colony rested on an Indian who was kidnapped, sold into slavery, returned home to see his tribe wiped out, and yet through these events was used by God to preserve the Pilgrims who came to America with this purpose, "for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith". (Mayflower Compact, November 11, 1620)
We have so much to be thankful for this thanksgiving season – even despite the tough times in which we live. In Israel, we’re thankful there’s a lull so that we can celebrate thanksgiving without the noise of sirens sounding. While times are hard, we’re thankful to be alive for such a time as this! So we’re entering His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise today, knowing that our God is providentially in control of everything that is going on around us. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends in the States — we’re celebrating with you in the Negev!