Thankful for What?

Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm (Deuteronomy 5:15)

On the fourth Thursday in November, US citizens celebrate Thanksgiving Day. History reveals that for the first few years after the English pilgrims made their home in the New World, they were beset by famine and cold—surviving only through the assistance of friendly Native Americans. And so when they were finally able to have a plentiful harvest in 1621, they celebrated Thanksgiving as a way of remembering both the blessings and the hardships they’d endured.

In Deuteronomy 5:15, God commanded the people of Israel to remember something that most people would rather forget: They had once been slaves in Egypt. Far from being an isolated directive, God gave this command no less than three times (see also Deuteronomy 15:15, Deuteronomy 24:18). The call to remember this painful chapter in the life of the people of Israel makes sense because their enslavement in Egypt was a significant part of their history—something not to be forgotten (Deuteronomy 6:12).

But there’s a more positive aspect to this remembrance as well. As the people of Israel remembered their enslavement, they could see the full scope of God’s work in their lives—how He had taken them from slavery to freedom, from Egypt to the Promised Land. If they forgot their time in Egypt, they would forget the full story of what God had done for them.

It’s all too easy for some of us to block out the bad times of our lives and focus solely on the good. But as natural as this tendency is, we should never forget the hardships we’ve faced. Difficult times demonstrate the full scope of how amazing God’s grace and love truly are (Deuteronomy 5:10). Let’s give thanks today and remember that the Lord our God continues to faithfully provide for us during the good and bad times.

This passage first appeared on

Thankful for What?