Today we are going to be talking about thanking God. We have an example of some people long ago who thanked God. These people are the Pilgrims. They thanked God in good times and in bad times.
How did the Pilgrims get to the New World? (In a ship called the Mayflower; show the Mayflower picture.) That trip was very hard. Storms tossed the ship. The Pilgrims didn't arrive in the new World until November, too late to plant crops before winter. So that first winter in the New World was very hard. Many people got sick. In fact the captain of the Mayflower stayed through the winter and Mayflower became a hospital ship. But the Pilgrims thought their hard times were God's way of testing to them to see if they had courage and faith. Let's pretend we are Pilgrims. It is winter, and it is cold. You are trying to build little cabins for the people to live in. (Have all the students stand and pretend to build.)
During the middle of winter, many people got sick and died. Many of those were children. Some days, as many as three people died. (Pull out three students and have them stand to one side.)
Now there are fewer of you to work. Some people were sent to the Mayflower because they were so sick. (Pull out three more students and have them stand in another area. Have the remaining students keep working.)
By the end of winter, half the people had died. (Send half of your students to stand with the first three.)
Do you think the Pilgrims gave up after that first year? No, they had a celebration to thank God. They invited their friends from the Wampanoag tribe to celebrate with them. That is how our first Thanksgiving Day started. If the Pilgrims could thank God through their hard times, we certainly should be able to thank God through our hard times, too.
(Have everyone sit down. Let the students share some of the things for which they're thankful.)
We have all felt grateful to God for something at some time. Perhaps you have felt grateful when God allowed something good to happen to your family like a new baby or someone who was sick getting well. Other time, we must thank God even when we don't feel thankful. God wants us to thank him when we're in a hard situation or when we feel depressed or sad. During those times, it's harder to thank God.
(Talk with the students about some of the hard times they or their friends have gone through. Share a time in your own life when you thanked God during a difficult situation.)
For most of us, thanking God is hard because we can't think of things to say. We forget about all the wonderful things God has done for us. Or, if we do notice them, we often forget to thank God for them. Let's talk about some things for which we can thank God right now. (Mention a few of your own praises, too.)
(Encourage the students to pray brief prayers of thanks for each thing mentioned by the others. Thank God for each student. Ask that each child will remember to give God thanks on a regular basis. Remember to pray for each child during the week.)
Click the image above to print the Mayflower