No matter where a person lived in America during the Revolutionary War, difficulties were commonplace. My fourth great-grandparents, Sarah and Colonel John Kelly, lived in the Pennsylvania frontier on land they purchased from the Penn family. They worked hard to build a life and home for their growing family.
In early July 1778, word reached Sarah and John that British and Indians were attacking and massacring settlers in Pennsylvania’s not too-distant Wyoming Valley. Two days later, the enemy descended upon the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, the area the Kelly family called home.
Sarah and John understood that the price of staying in one’s home during Indian attacks was often a person’s life. Unable to take possessions, Sarah and her children—four-year old John and two-year old James—left their house. Taking a final look at their large log cabin, Sarah wondered if the British and Indians would burn it to the ground.
With John leading the way, the young family hurried to the Susquehanna River—several miles away. There, Sarah and the boys climbed onto a hastily built raft and paddled to the middle of the river where they hoped enemy arrows and bullets could not reach. Sarah and her small sons floated downriver, either to the safety of Fort Augusta or further south to where Harrisburg now stands. They remained in exile for an extended period--until peace returned to the area. John, a Colonel in the Pennsylvania Militia, remained behind and commanded a group of rangers charged with protecting the area from enemy attack.
Over two hundred years later, my husband and I faced leaving our house during difficult circumstances. After my husband lost his job during the severe 2008 recession—with no sign of new employment on the horizon—we made the heartbreaking decision to sell our house rather than risk running out of money and not being able to make the mortgage payments. We faced possible homelessness until a relative offered to allow us to live with them.
During our two years of unemployment, our future appeared hopeless. At times, I despaired of ever returning to a good life. I often thought of Sarah and John whose trust in God sustained them when their world turned upside down with no guarantee of survival. Their faith and perseverance in the face of life-threatening dangers encouraged me to keep going in spite of the overwhelming odds against my husband finding another job and our family buying another home.
Eventually, the British and Indians stopped warring on Pennsylvania settlers, and Sarah and John returned home where their lives continued and prospered. And when God deemed the time right, not only did my husband find a job, but He provided another house for us.
Cynthia Howerter's new book (available for pre-order), God’s Provision in Tough Times—co-authored by La-Tan Roland Murphy—is an anthology containing 25 true stories about the ways God provided for each of our 17 writers during difficult times. God’s Provision in Tough Times is available for pre-order at Amazon.com. Colonial Quills founder and writer Carrie Fancett Pagels contributed a story to the book.