Charles Colson in his Breakpoint perspective (at www.breakpoint.org) on Nov. 4, 2005, relates an interesting story. Let me share it with you.
Colson said, "Most of us know the account of that first Thanksgiving from the Pilgrim's perspective, but without an Indian by the name of Squanto. Historical accounts of Squanto's life vary, but historians believe that around 1608 -- more than a decade before the Pilgrims arrived -- a group of English traders sailed to what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, the traders took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, and sold them into slavery. It was an unimaginable horror.
"But God had an amazing plan for one of the captured Indians -- a boy named Squanto. Squanto was bought by a well-meaning Spanish monk, who treated him well and taught him the Christian faith. Squanto eventually made his way to England and worked in the stables of a man named John Slaney. Slaney sympathized with Squanto's desire to return home, and he promised to put the Indian on the first vessel bound for America.
"It wasn't until 1618 -- 10 years after Squanto was first kidnapped -- that a ship was found. Finally, after a decade of exile and heartbreak, Squanto was on his way home. But when he arrived in Massachusetts, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out Squanto's entire village.
"We can only imagine what must have gone through Squanto's mind: Why had God allowed him to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead? A year later, the answer came. A shipload of English families arrived and settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto's people. Squanto went to meet them, greeting the startled Pilgrims in English.
"According to the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, Squanto 'became a special instrument sent of God for (our) good... He showed (us) how to plant (our) corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities ... and was also (our) pilot to bring (us) to unknown places for (our) profit, and never left (us) till he died.'
"When Squanto lay dying of a fever, Bradford wrote that their Indian friend 'desir(ed) the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen's God in heaven.' Squanto bequeathed his possessions to the Pilgrims 'as remembrances of his love.'
"Who but God could so miraculously convert a lonely Indian and then use him to save a struggling band of Englishmen? It is reminiscent of the biblical story of Joseph, who was also sold into slavery -- and whom God, likewise, used as a special instrument for good."
What an amazing story. What wonderful insight from the pen of Chuck Colson. As you celebrate this Thanksgiving, please remember two things.
First, remember that the reason the pilgrims came here in the first place was to find religious freedom, not freedom from religion that has become the fad of our day. Second, remember that the same God who arranged the events in Squanto's life, turning bane into blessing, desires to do the same for you.
Obviously, as I write this article I cannot possibly know what struggles you face or what trials you may be going through. I can't, but God does. This God cares for you. He loves you. He proved that love by sending His precious Son to die on a cross for you. Even though we cared nothing for Him and even though we would constantly abuse Him, He still gave to prove His love for you. I, for one, am thankful that I discovered that love.
The God who could transform the circumstances of Squanto's life, knitting them together to provide for the physical needs of America's earliest settlers and the God who could transform such a horrible instrument of death, a cross, into such a thing of beauty because of what it now represents, can transform your circumstances as well.
Why not trust Him?
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.