It’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories…
My cousins and siblings and I singing the Pilgrim hymn “We Gather Together” at the top of our lungs… and not just in our classrooms, where we were learning it for the annual elementary school Thanksgiving Feast, but in the car both to and from school, and in the backyard as we played together. Everywhere we went.
It had such a beautiful little melody. And the words were simple enough:
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
The gathering together part was lovely – and my little heart loved singing praises to His Name. That “He forgets not His own” was one of those truths that seemed so obvious then.
Of course God never forgets us, never forsakes us, never relaxes His hold on us. He’s GOD. God is good. And God is love.
I remember being vaguely aware that “chasten” was an old-fashioned word for discipline. I’m sure my teachers (who were also my aunts) and my parents would have explained to us that sometimes out of love for us, God disciplines us for our good. (That’s the kind of thing they taught us, even back then.)
But my seven year-old self could not have really understood the kind of pain and suffering implied in the discipline that is “chastening.” The hardship, the heartache.
I do now. So did the first Pilgrims. Thinking of the persecution they suffered – and what they suffered to escape it – seems especially poignant this year, when so many of our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering persecution for their faith.
God allows the hard things to teach us, to strengthen us, to purify us, to refine us.
To make us into the image of His Son.
We learn so much about Him and about ourselves through the process. Both when our