Corn, Pilgrims, & God’s Providence


One of my favorite areas of history to read and study is about the Pilgrims. Every year, just before Thanksgiving, I read through William Bradford’s book called Of Plymouth Plantation. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so. Bradford chronicles the Pilgrims journey from England to Holland to eventually the New World. Unfortunately, most Americans do not know the real story behind the Pilgrims and their journey here to America.

But one thing that is certain as you read through Bradford’s account is the Pilgrims strong belief and faith in God. It’s amazing to read (especially if you are unfamiliar with the true story or have been taught something completely false in your history classes).

When the Pilgrim’s arrived it was in the winter of 1620. Everyone’s familiar with the winter weather that the Northeastern part of the United States has had this year. Now imagine, arriving in ship, to a deserted land (no Holiday Inn’s to welcome you), in winter. No one to welcome you, no warm homes to rest in, no fast food places to grab a bite to eat, and no iPad to distract your children from the hunger or cold.

When the Pilgrims arrived, they sent out a search group to survey the land. And what did they find?

Bradford wrote, “And it is to be noted as a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that they thus got seed to plant corn the next year, or they might have starved; for they had none, nor any likelihood of getting any, till too late for the planting season. Nor is it likely that they would have got it if this first voyage had not been made, for the ground was soon all covered with snow and frozen hard. But the Lord is never wanting until His in their great need; let His holy name have all the praise.”

Imagine the delight in finding corn such as this? It’s hard for us to put ourselves in the Pilgrim’s shoes. We are used to being able to go to any store and finding whatever we need (and of course a plethora of things we do not need) whenever we want. We minimize the miracle of God’s good providence in all of this. Not only could the Pilgrims have landed in any area on the coast but then to send out a search group and find seeds in which would provide food for them, is amazing!

Eventually the Pilgrims settled and develop friendships with the local Indians. Bradford says, “But Squanto stayed with them, and was their interpreter, and became a special instrument sent of God for their good, beyond their expectation. He showed them to plant their corn, where to take fish and other commodities, and guided them to unknown places, and never left them till he died.”  Later on, Squanto even shows the Pilgrims how to use fish to manure their exhausted soil.

The Pilgrims endured incredible hardships. Hardships that we cannot and don’t want to imagine. Many of them lost loved ones. Times were tough. So tough Bradford said, “The settlers now began to consider corn more precious than silver.” The Pilgrims not only used corn for the obvious reason to eat but it was also very valuable to use in trade with others.

Though our current times are nothing like the hardships the Pilgrims endured, heirloom seeds are still extremely valuable today. We can’t fathom the idea of seeds being more precious than silver. But think about us today, we are completely dependent on our food from someone else. And not only are we dependent but we are nonchalant in our care of where our foods comes from and the chemicals that are used on them.

Unlike the Pilgrims, we currently have the opportunity to purchase seeds and to save our seeds year after year.   We are very blessed with the ability to grow an abundance of our own food, in our own backyard. If you haven’t planned out your garden yet or purchased your heirloom seeds, you still have time!

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