Guest post from Anna @ Feminine Adventures
What do moldy bread, an over-crowded ship, puking passengers, and five kernels of corn have to teach us about Thanksgiving?
Several years ago I picked up William Bradford’s first hand account of life in Plymouth. I couldn’t wait to read about the first Thanksgiving and expected the great Thanksgiving feast to be the theme of the book.
Instead, I read chapter after chapter of trials and tribulations as the pilgrims journeyed to the “New World” and began their new lives.
The Mayflower Pilgrims’ Many Thanksgivings
Did you know that many of the pilgrims weren’t even planning on traveling on the Mayflower? They were originally going to take two boats. But the sister ship, Speedwell, sprang a leak not far off the English coast and the pilgrims had to head back to land. After costly repairs, they set out again. Again the Speedwell sprang a leak.
As many as could crowded onto the smaller Mayflower ship. By then winter was approaching (a very bad time for landing in an unknown land), but they faced religious imprisonment if they stayed, so they lifted anchor anyway.
Then storms came and the pilgrims sat huddled beneath deck.The ship’s mast cracked. Supplies were lost. There was barely enough room to lie down and many were seasick. Worms and mold infested their food. For weeks they shivered and never fully dried out after getting drenched in the storm.
They faced one tragedy after another. Once they finally landed, the terrible first winter began. At one point the daily ration was down to five kernels of corn a day. Prolonged cold, lack of food, and sickness took its toll. That first winter nearly half of the pilgrims died.
Their suffering was incredible. But even more incredible was how they thanked God. Not just when summer and harvest came, but for His grace in the midst of each tribulation.
The pilgrims made it safely across the Atlantic, despite many delays and losses. They thanked God.
They had five kernels of corn to eat. They thanked God.
They were given strength to care for one another during the terrible first winter. They thanked God.
Their homes burned down, they shivered in the cold, and they prayed. Spring came. They thanked God.
They made friends with the Indians. They thanked God.
In every situation, in trials and in blessings, they thanked God.
What five kernels of corn can teach us about Thanksgiving
It was incredibly humbling to read Bradford’s account and think of the many times I’ve complained about kids tracking mud onto the freshly-washed floor or the baby waking me up too much in the night.
Most of my troubles seem pretty petty in comparison to what they suffered. And yet they chose to obey God and give thanks in everything, anyway.
So we are right in remembering the pilgrims during this season of Thanksgiving. But the legacy of the pilgrims isn’t just one great Thanksgiving feast.
Their legacy is one of thanksgiving in the blessings, in the mundane, and even in the miserable circumstances that cross our paths on this earthly adventure to our heavenly home.
Anna seeks to capture glimpses of the adventure of building a home on her blog, Feminine Adventures. There she writes about her passions: Christian womanhood, homeschooling, and homemaking. Visit her blog or join her on Pinterest or Facebook.