We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving, and it's one I've enjoyed reading to my kids again this year. All those old familiar tales of Squanto and the Pilgrims, of neighborliness and sharing.
But even more stirring was when I read about the Second Thanksgiving the Pilgrims celebrated.
After that first harvest we've all read about, the Pilgrims wisely stored food to see them through the winter. And they had plenty. Certain that it wouldn't be a repeat of the previous winter, where so many had died of hunger and illness, they settled in to their settlement to await spring.
But another ship came, bearing more settlers...and with no food supplies. Suddenly they had far more mouths to feed than they had stores with which to feed them. But it wasn't their way to turn anyone away. Instead, they accepted these newcomers and divided their rations again. They adjusted as best they could.
And they grew hungry. At one point, each person's daily ration was five kernels of corn a day. Five kernels!
The Pilgrims knew they couldn't survive on this meager allotment. But they had nothing to trade for food, no other ships were due with supplies. And they, unlike those in the Virginia Colony to the south, weren't about to steal and kill for it. Instead, they prayed. They humbled themselves. They searched their hearts for any sin and appealed to God for salvation.
He provided it. A ship unexpectedly entered Plymouth harbor, on its way from the southern colonies to England. Though they didn't have extra food, they did have goods that they traded for the Pilgrims' beaver pelts. And with those goods, the Plymouth colony could trade with the Native Americans for more food.
They survived the winter without one death. When spring came, they planted. In summer, they tended. In the fall, they reaped in an admirable harvest.
Again, they declared a feast of Thanksgiving. Again, they invited the natives that played such a vital role in their survival. But there was something different at this feast.
This time, around each plate, they put five kernels of dried corn. A reminder of all they had been through...and of all the Lord had done to save them.
As we reflect on Thanksgiving this year, let's put our kernels before the Lord. They don't just represent the blessings He heaps on us...they represent the hardships He sees us through. They represent His faithfulness.
What are your kernels this year?