Learning To Be Thankful In Hard Times
Every November for the last fifteen years, I have read William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation. And every year I’m blown away by this classic Pilgrim story. Written with intelligence and a keen wit, Governor Bradford chronicles the journey from England to Holland, back to England and finally to America with a small band of very determined Christians.
These Puritan folks endured persecution and arrests from the established Church of England, as well as the harshest conditions imaginable as they made their voyage and then established Plymouth Colony. Sickness was common during the crossing and conditions only got worse when they landed. But despite freezing conditions, disease and starvation, the survivors always carried a most thankful spirit. The book is an easy read and very inspiring.
This year I decided I would read Winthrop’s Journal instead. It’s John Winthrop’s actual blow-by-blow account as he made the pilgrimage to America ten years after the Plymouth colony was established. Winthrop founded the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1630 and, like the Pilgrims, you can’t help but be amazed at the continual state of thanksgiving despite incredibly hard times. Check out these journal entries in the year 1630:
– Friday, 2.] The Talbot arrived there [Charlton Harbor]. She had lost fourteen passengers. My son, Henry Winthrop, was drowned at Salem.
– Thursday, 8.] We kept a day of thanksgiving in all the plantations.
And then in the next year, after numerous lives were lost at sea getting supplies to the colony:
– January 18.] The provision, which came to us this year, came at excessive rates, in regard of the dearness of corn in England, so as every bushel of wheat-meal stood us in fourteen shillings, peas eleven shillings, etc.
– January 22.] We held a day of thanksgiving for this ship’s arrival, by order from the governor and council, directed to all the plantations.
Okay, quick review. The guy loses his son and the response a few days later is thanksgiving. In January of the next year, provisions (seeds of all things) show up late and at highly inflated prices, and what’s the response? Thanksgiving.
I often wonder how modern Americans would respond if put in these stark, early colonial conditions. It seems that much of the American attitude today is characterized by a spirit of entitlement rather than a spirit of thanksgiving. If we’re going to change America, we have to change it not only in the body politic, but primarily in the hearts and minds of the American people. We must restore a permanent sense of thanksgiving, despite the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Here’s the thing: In addition to enjoying the benefits and wonders of our relationship with God, can we also learn to thank Him for the difficult times that He sometimes gives us? Interestingly, many of David’s psalms of lament actually end up with remarkable thanksgiving and praise.
The Bible is indeed full of reminders that God’s blessings do not remove trials and hard times. In fact, our difficulties may often increase as we are so blessed. In the book of Exodus, God blessed the Israelites greatly with safe passage through the Red Sea. And yet, after a few days journey in the wilderness, they were already out of water. This presented a new opportunity to feel either entitled to water or to demonstrate faith and thanksgiving, despite how thirsty they may have been.
As we prepare for hard times ahead, it would do us all well to look to the example of those who remained faithful and thankful no matter what the situation in which they found themselves.
At Solutions From Science and Off the Grid News, we’d like to take this time to let you know we’re especially thankful that God has given us a relationship with you… our customers, our readers, and our friends.
God’s Richest Blessings,
Bill Heid Founder, Off The Grid News
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