Thanksgiving in the Midst of Suffering

Dear Friend,

I love the story of Thanksgiving. We celebrate the holiday every year, yet many people don’t realize what a fascinating history it has in America — and how meaningful it is to us here at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.

The winter before the first Thanksgiving, half the Pilgrims died. The next fall, Governor Bradford proclaimed a celebration of Thanksgiving — in the midst of tremendous suffering! President Lincoln declared a “Day of Thanks” as a national holiday in 1863 — in the middle of the Civil War!

Although many often think of Thanksgiving as a day of turkey and football, it’s really a celebration of hope. And that’s how we observe the holiday at MRM — with great joy and deep thanks because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, even in times of crisis, hardship and suffering. Here at MRM, we celebrate and share this hope with the precious men, women, and children we serve — “[giving] thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)

Through God’s grace and your support, those who are homeless, hungry and hurting have a reason to be thankful when they walk through our doors. As they sit down to a hot Thanksgiving meal at a warm and welcoming table, our guests forget the shame and hurt of their pasts, and realize they have another chance – a chance to experience happiness and wholeness in Christ.

I hope you know how grateful I am for your compassion towards our struggling neighbors! By God’s grace and through your generosity, our hurting neighbors not only find refuge from their hardship when they come to MRM — but also encouragement, hope and a path toward life transformation.

Thank you for being a blessing. Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.