“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
Knocking knees around an overflowing Thanksgiving table is the perfect time to remember. Families share inside jokes from that one vacation. Remember whens from funny parenting mistakes. I can’t believe we…from adult childhood admittance. All of that knits a family together.
But this week as you gather with your loved ones, you can bond over something more than shared memories. Declaring God’s faithfulness to your family through the years. Acknowledging God’s sovereign hand in each of the lives around the table. Giving thanks to God together is a way to bless His name. And a way to bind your family with an everlasting bond.
When we can praise and thank our creator together by corporately proclaiming His good works, we set the stage for generations to come who will again declare His goodness.
Below is another story to read for yourself or with your family about how one group of people decided to do this in the most difficult days. Hearing about others who have chosen thankfulness in all circumstances stirs in our souls the courage to do the same ourselves.
Is There a Way Out? Being Thankful for Deliverance
It was dark and time to move again. The woman leading the passengers encouraged them to move quietly and quickly even though they were exhausted and hungry. After many hours of walking in the darkness, Harriet Tubman tip-toed silently to the farmhouse door and knocked. When the door cracked open, the farmer asked in a frightened voice, “Who is it?” When Harriet gave the password, “A friend with friends,” the man inside told them to go away. He hurriedly explained that slave-catchers had searched his house the day before and he couldn’t take the risk.
Stumbling back into the deep darkness of the woods, the runaway slaves crawled under bushes and piles of leaves to hide as dawn began to lighten the sky. As they fell asleep, their deliverer was praying intently to her heavenly Friend, asking Him to lead them through the ever present danger to safety. Harriet never slept but kept watch through the day and prayed without ceasing.
As night fell once again and the group prepared to move, they heard a voice of someone approaching. In fear, everyone retreated back to their hiding places. But as the voice came nearer, Harriet heard the words, “My wagon stands in the barnyard across the way. The horse is in the stable. The harness hangs on a nail.” The man never stopped, but continued walking and repeating these words until he was gone.
When the night sky was completely dark, Harriet crept out of the woods and found the barn. Waiting there were all the things the man had mentioned, including blankets and baskets of food. God provided for their needs and for their deliverance.
As the runaways were climbing into the wagon they proclaimed, “Praise God! Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Thank you” over and over. They knew without question that God is the One who saves and delivers. Giving thanks was their natural response.[i]
There are countless other stories of liberation: God using Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, Paul and Silas being released from prison, David being delivered over and over again from Saul and his enemies, and Paul being saved from the venom of a snake bite. But deliverance is not just for those in slavery or those who lived in biblical times. Every person needs to be delivered. Jesus said of Himself, “He has sent me . . . to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1).
How are we captives? What makes us a prisoner like the slaves Harriet rescued?
The Bible teaches us that all men and women and boys and girls are trapped by sin. We are born separated from God and our selfishness and bad choices keep us captive. But God loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus to pay the price to free us. When we give our lives to Jesus, He sets us free from our sin. We, like the slaves in this story, have much to give thanks for if we have been delivered by Jesus.
God also brings other kinds of deliverance to His children. Some people have been delivered from sickness, some have been saved from near accidents, some have been rescued from fires, and many have been set free from having angry, hateful hearts toward others. God’s greatest miracles are worked in the human heart.
Have you been delivered from the slavery of your sin? Have you let God deliver your heart from being angry and wanting to get even?
The wonderful hymn by John Newton says it so well:
Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
Thanking God for deliverance
If all in your family have been set free by Jesus, then together give thanks for that most wonderful of all deliverances. If there are members of your family who do not yet know Jesus, a little brother or sister, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or a parent, then pray together for that person’s deliverance. Thank God that He loves that person even more than you do.
Now think of other ways that God has delivered you or someone in your family, and thank Him. Finally, ask God if there are other things that He wants to deliver you from—anger, bitterness, getting even with those who hurt you.
Another fun ideas is our FREE Pilgrim hat craft. Simply cut it out, color the different pieces, and have your kids wear them during the Thanksgiving story. Download the printable here.
*This story is taken from Growing Together in Gratitude, by Barbara Rainey, a read-aloud book for families. It is currently out of print but hopefully will available again in a year. Stay tuned!
[i] Dave and Neta Jackson, Heroes in Black History: True Stories From the Lives of Christian Heroes (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2008), 17–18. Adapted.