In the dead of the harshest winter they’d ever seen, in a fledgling town on the Dakota prairie, the Ingalls family almost starved to death.*
The town, barely evolved past its beginnings as a railroad camp, depended on the train for supplies. But whenever workers started to dig out the tracks, buried under mammoth snowdrifts, another blizzard would hit. The stores had run out of food, the frozen prairie was devoid of game. Pa was a good hunter who always brought home meat for his family, but he hadn’t seen so much as a rabbit’s track all winter.
The day came when the family was down to six potatoes and enough wheat to grind for that day’s bread. Just before supper, Pa left the house with an empty milk pail, for reasons unknown to Ma. She watched him go, no doubt feeling helpless and hopeless. They had four children to feed, children who would starve if he didn’t bring home food . . . yet, how could he?
He could, because he knew something she didn’t know. Or at least, he guessed something she hadn’t guessed.
One of their neighbors, a hard-working young farmer, had brought seed wheat west with him from Minnesota. Knowing that his brother, a feed store proprietor, would sell the wheat if the townspeople ever got wind of its existence, the farmer built a false wall in the store and hid the wheat behind it. Pa had noticed the discrepancy between the dimensions of the outside of the building and the inside, and figured someone had built a false wall. He’d somehow guessed the rest, about the wheat.
That evening, Pa paid the farmer a visit with his empty milk pail. The young man was happy to sell a little wheat to keep the Ingalls family from starving.
And now I come to the part of the story that never fails to inspire me.
When Pa came home with that pail of wheat, Ma sifted her fingers through it, rocked back and forth and said these words:
“Oh, Charles. Oh, Charles. I might have known you’d provide for us.”
It’s like she realized she’d been caught up, understandably, in the bleakness of her circumstances. So much so that she’d forgotten to consider the man she knew. Had he ever failed to provide for his family?
And here he’d done it again, during a time when it seemed impossible.
Of course, people can fail us. But this story reminds me that we can depend on God to do the very thing Pa did that day. God will faithfully take care of us, no matter how seemingly impossible the situation. We can count on it. “The most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner that He steps forth to save us at a time when there is the least appearance of it.” C.H. Bogatzky
We need to look up, metaphorically speaking, not around us at our circumstances. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3
Our help, friends, comes from God, the creator of the universe. Our creator, the One who loved us enough to die a cruel death on a cross. Remember Him. Not the circumstances . . . Him.
*Story taken from The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder