As America celebrates Thanksgiving 2020, Christians and those who remember the Puritans and their journey aboard the Mayflower see this celebration in greater significance. Their motivations behind their decision to embark on a perilous trip will remind people of what really matters in life.
The Puritans were a group of people who were longing for reforms in the church of England, believing that it was corrupt. Dubbed "Separatists," these faithful people looked for a place to worship God in freedom and peace, the Stream noted.
The Puritan Separatists were not allowed to start a church of their own. Some of them fled to the Netherlands, where in Leiden, they found religious liberty but were in a foreign culture.
Fearing a possible siege and persecution from Catholic Spain, the Separatists decided to journey through the Atlantic in the hopes of rebuilding in the New World.
A perilous journey
The Puritan Separatists counted themselves among the 102 passengers on board the Mayflower as it left England on September 16, 1620. They planned to settle in Northern Virginia, but the weather and raging seas threw them 500 miles off course to Provincetown Harbor. It was almost winter whey they arrived there.
The harsh weather made it very difficult for the Pilgrims to settle. And during winter, 45 of the 102 Mayflower passengers died. The remaining survivors, on the other hand, faced a variety of challenges such as scurvy and the lack of a decent shelter.
Even before they left for the journey, the Puritan Separatists already knew the risks they were taking. They knew they have a minimal chance to survive. Governor William Bradford, in his memoir of Plymouth Plantation, explained that the pilgrims expected to face hardships along the way, but they trusted in God for their survival.
The pilgrims knew that the journey will be very perilous because other English settlers in America, in Jamestown, lost their lives trying as they made their way to live in a new world. Some of them died of starvation; others died of diseases. Their demise became known, and would've painted a bleak picture for the Mayflower's passengers.
Nevertheless, the Puritan Separatists were convinced that they need to leave England to be able to worship God freely and in peace, without fear of control.
It was all worth it
Today's Americans might not understand what motivated the Puritan Separatists to push through with a trip they knew to be dangerous and even fatal. Those who knew what mattered to them, however, might find themselves motivated to do more than they ever did, too.
Nathaniel Philbrick, the author of a book about the Mayflower's journey that became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history, explained the powerful motivation that drove the pilgrims to make the journey to the new world.
"They believed that their relationship with God and with each other was the most important thing in their lives," Philbrick told the Stream. "They were trying to have a one-to-one relationship with God, to get rid of all of the man-made impurities that had entered the conversation in the 1,600 years since Jesus Christ. To get back to the Word of God."
The journey was perilous and cost a lot of lives, but for the Puritans, it was worth having the freedom to worship God and grow in their relationship with Him.