Kingdom Living

Five Small Kernels

A number of years ago I learned the story of the true first and second days of thanksgiving in the New World. They were actually not held in consecutive years because there was an extreme food shortage the second harvest year after the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth. In fact, the Pilgrims nearly died that second year as each person had to be rationed a mere five kernels of corn per day. Things were certainly not how the Pilgrims had expected or planned. The very first day of thanksgiving they had quite a good harvest (thanks to Samoset and Tisquantum). The Pilgrims, along with Massasoit and about 50 braves enjoyed a great feast. This is the story that we all know from grade school. However, the part of the story I didn’t know until just a few years ago is the story of the following two years. 

The year that followed that first Thanksgiving, there was not enough food to go around because more settlers arrived from across the sea but they had brought no provisions like that first group of Pilgrims had. The second harvest year, instead of the abundant harvest they’d planned for, the Pilgrims were forced into grim rationing. When it came time to plant again, the Pilgrims needed a harvest at least twice the size of the first harvest. Not only that, but when it came time for the expected rains, there was a severe drought, the likes of which not even the native americans had ever seen. They once again faced dire circumstances, but they trusted God and prayed and finally came the most gentle rain for 14 days straight, exactly what their crops needed. 

The annual harvest feast almost didn’t happen for a second year in a row. However, The Father graciously provided once again exactly what they needed when they needed it and that harvest yielded more than anyone had expected. Once again they celebrated their abundant harvest with Massasoit and this time about 120 braves who brought with them all the meat for their great feast. The first course of their banquet however was only five kernels of corn on each plate, to serve as a reminder of those hard and scary times The Father had brought them through the season before, and they were thankful.

Each Thanksgiving feast since I learned this story, I have recounted it as my own reminder of the abundance that I have. This year especially though, this story hits me a little bit differently. This year, we have faced a global crisis the likes of which we ourselves have never experienced. This year, my family is spread out across the miles for a myriad of reasons: some are quarantined, some remodeling, some had to change plans at the very last minute, some are heroically working hard to save lives. In my case, I decided to take a thanksgiving meal to a few family members that had no plans for a “typical” Thanksgiving due to a couple of these life events. Perhaps that is what got me thinking about those five corn kernels in a new way. Or it could be this global pandemic that has me pondering anew. Maybe it is because I’ve been able to look back on my last thanksgiving, remembering my own sorrow and need that was so great then and seeing how The Father provided for me and brought me through it. Perhaps it has something to do with watching my own children go through difficult disappointments this year. I know that in spite of the figurative “shortage” in their lives (don’t worry we have plenty of food), that The Father will faithfully get us through this year also, even if we are hanging on by the most meager of “rations”.

Whatever the reasons–maybe all of those reasons–I am thinking back on those five kernels of corn with a new intentionality, and I find myself even more thankful this year. Yes, its been a very difficult year for so many of us. We may find ourselves only able to muster up five very small things for which to give thanks – all the more reason to be grateful. This is not the end, by any means. We are still here and still moving forward. Maybe some of us have found ourselves looking back on what looked like an impossible drought that seemed it would not end in time for us to survive, yet we find we have all that we need and in some cases maybe more than that and we are able to share with someone else. Yes, this has been a challenging year, but what a great time to be thankful for especially the seemingly small things in our lives. 

Maybe all we’re able to do is talk to our friends and family over the phone whereas last year we would see them every day. Let’s be thankful for such a small thing as that ability to talk to loved ones on the phone. Let’s be thankful these loved ones are still here.

Maybe we’re only able to gather with the ones closest in proximity to us. Let’s be thankful for such a small gathering where we are not alone and we have plenty to eat.

Maybe we’re not able to do the traditional things we’ve always done. Let’s be thankful for small traditions that are not gone simply because this year is different. Let’s be thankful for the small beginnings of new traditions born out of unexpected and unwanted circumstances.

Maybe our plans for this year have been overturned. Let’s be thankful for the small opportunities to make new plans for the future. Let’s be thankful that in spite of our own overturned plans, The Father still has plans for us, the likes of which are greater than our own, full of hope and goodness.

For me, this Thanksgiving looks a bit different than those of years passed, but after my own season of figurative shortage, I am setting five kernels before me and finding I have much to be thankful for:

  • People in my life that I deeply care about and who truly love and support me.
  • The freedom to move about safely and carefully being thoughtful of those around me.
  • Abundant food to share, even with a small few.
  • My overall health and safety along with the health and safety of my loved ones.
  • The Father’s faithful presence, forgiving grace, and love for me.

Even as I write my short list, choosing only five “kernels” I find is an impossible task. There is so much more I am thankful for. 

Dear reader, I know in the depths of my heart and out of my own experience that even if things are impossibly challenging right now, there are at least five very small things you can be grateful for. Those may be the only five things to give thanks for in the next days and weeks and months to come, but they are not insignificant. Hold on to them. Give thanks. The Father desires to give you (and all of His children) good things because He is a good Father. Look to Him and He will sustain you even in these mere five small thanks-givings until the day that you are able to add a sixth, then a seventh, an eighth, and so on until you too have more to be thankful for than these first five small things. And for those that find that you are looking back on a prior year with meager provisions but staring at a feast before you now, stop and give thanks for what The Father did to get you through that tough season. Then give to someone else who finds themselves in need now. You may be one of the five kernels The Father uses to get them through this difficult time.


Thinking About You

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
    He is their help and their shield.
The Lord has remembered us; He will bless us;
    He will bless the house of Israel;
    He will bless the house of Aaron;
He will bless those who fear the Lord,
    Both the small and the great.


I love how songs, especially worship and praise songs, can actually be an encouragement to us while also glorifying God at the same time. I love that one chapter in the Psalms often contains great richness in just one or two of it’s verses. I love how scripture reminds us where our blessing and help and hope comes from; it always does a focus adjustment on our “lenses”.

Its so easy, going through the day-to-day, to start to forget that all that I have, all that I need – it all comes from God and His strength, blessing, and grace. I try so often, without even realizing it most of the time, to give myself my own blessings, to help myself, and protect myself. This inevitably eventually leads to a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed and the fact that I absolutely cannot do all those things by myself. I’m not saying that God doesn’t use the skills and abilities He’s created me with to accomplish things in and with me. What I am saying is that my lenses gradually get smudges and fogged up when I “forget” God throughout the day and try to use those skills and abilities without asking for His help and wisdom for how to use them. When my lenses get all blurred, because I can’t see clearly that all of this that I already have is from God and because of God, I start to forget. I forget that God has, and is, and will always help me through all of this swirling and churning. I forget that I’m not alone to figure it all out by myself. I forget that His shield is already raised, protecting me right where I’m standing, in His perfect will. If I would just stay put, keep my focus on Him and remember He’s already got this and He’s helping me through it all, I would be absolutely ok.

This verse wipes the smudges off my glasses and reminds me to trust the God I know because I’ve seen how He remembers me, how He has blessed me before, how He has remembered and blessed so many people, all through history. It is a reminder He still remains true to His name and His character.

With verses like these, Daddy-God lovingly wipes away the fog and smudges once again. “See there?” He says gently, as He places the clean, smudge-free glasses back on my face. Now I can see again! He has pictures hanging on His walls – of me! And over there, on His fridge are some of His favorite things I’ve done. And He whispers as we walk together, “I have never forgotten you nor will I ever. You are my precious, beloved child, and I see you. I have and always will give you exactly what you need and more than you know to desire because I love you and nothing you can do, nor anything that could happen to you will ever change that. My strong arm is fully able to both help you and protect you. You are my most precious and prized child and I love you more than you know.”

My glasses get smudged and foggy from time to time, so I need the priceless Words of my Daddy-God to clean my lenses and remind me of all that I’ve seen, and heard, and experienced – all of the evidences and reminders that I can fully trust Him.

He has shown Himself loving and kind toward me over and over, and even if He had only done it once with The Cross, that alone would be an undeniable example of how unimaginably great His love is for me. He gave me the best blessing I could ever even wish for – the promise and hope of eternity with Him because of His own sacrifice and the resurrection of His Only Son. Because of His Son Jesus’ obedience to death and His resurrection power, I also am now considered God’s very own child, His family! And I have a crazy-good inheritance because of how He remembered me and blessed me.

Oh! How He loves us (me and you)!

And those He loves, He remembers.

And those who remember Him, He blesses; He blesses us with and because of our knowledge of Him.

He is Trustworthy and has given evidence after evidence of such.

Let us remember to trust Him even more today. We are and will continue to be blessed by our Daddy-God as we do.