Noah and I were studying for his Pilgrim test. Each question giving us a greater awareness of the depth of hardship the Pilgrims faced in their search for religious freedom, something we too often take for granted.
I know about those hardships from having taught about the Pilgrims several years ago. I know about those hardships from hearing my older boys review the material for their tests, but each time I think about those hardships, I realize I know nothing about those hardships.
I cannot imagine the hardship of crossing an ocean with no running water, no bathroom facilities, no fresh food, no place to run free.
I cannot imagine the hardship of being truly hungry or of being so physically strained or of having no opportunity for rest.
I cannot imagine the hardship of fear of the Natives, of dependence on things so out of our control, of the wilderness and the secrets it contained.
I cannot imagine the hardship of loss – loss of a neighbor, loss of a spouse, loss of a child…
As I sat studying with Noah before school, we began talking of what life must have been like, and I asked him if he would have gone back to England or if he would have stayed to try to carve a life out of this new and scary land.
Noah responded with no doubt in his voice.
I questioned his certainty, and he responded,
“If I believed God wanted me to stay, I’d know He was with me and I’d just have to trust Him and see what happens.
If I live, I live. If I die, well, at least I trusted God.”
He shrugged his still chubby little 10 year old shoulders, 10 year old shoulders that had carried so much in such a short time, a ten year old who sometimes teaches me more than I teach him.
It’s easy to sit in our comfortable kitchen and say such things.
Noah can be incredibly sweet; however, Noah has also been known to have an occasional absolute, all-out, screaming, yelling, door slamming temper tantrums over some pretty minor stuff.
Would he really trust God so sweetly?
I didn’t know. I don’t think it’s something any of us know if we haven’t been there, which is part of the reason we are told to forgive and to not judge others.
But I do know that the Bible also tells us to have faith like little children (Matthew 18:3). In Noah’s innocence, it is easy for him to trust God, but the Bible doesn’t tell us to trust God in innocence. It tells us to trust God in all we do just as little children do. Even when we have lived enough to be old and calloused and hardened, we must remain fresh and soft, trusting and Loving, as a child is.
So, as too many of us struggle with our voyages, as we navigate new and foreign territories where we seem to speak a different language from everyone else, where we feel so alone in finding our way, where we struggle to find food that will keep us filled and water that will quench our thirst, as we struggle to survive in a world that makes us often wish we could just turn our ship around and sail back to our previous lives, we must remember to hold onto our faith like a child.
God is all-Good, and He Loves us. He would not put us in a bad situation, but if human actions (our own included in some cases) put us in a bad spot, God can see us through it as long as we trust and Love Him and keep looking forward.
Returning to England is often not an option. What will you do to make your wilderness a land of opportunity rather than a land of fear and bitterness?