Groceries & Gratitude

Over a year later, I still think of it often when I’m grocery shopping. Standing amidst long aisles packed with food items that I can just take off the shelves and pay for myself, I remember them.

Lines of mothers and children waiting to get their one loaf of bread with their ration cards.

This was not a pivotal scene in Liz Tolsma’s novel Snow on the Tulips. The story follows Cornelia, a young widow engulfed in the pains and predicaments of life during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands near the end of WWII and focuses on her struggle for courage as the Resistance movement seeps into her life.

But this one scene stands among my strongest memories.  Like I said, it’s been over a year and I still think of it.

It has changed a little part of my life.

Perhaps it’s guilt, you ask? I mean, there certainly are starving people in the world today while I stand in that grocery store overflowing with such excess. True, I could feel guilty sometimes.

But mostly I just feel…grateful.

I feel grateful for the plenty and the opportunities to share it. I feel grateful for the ability to choose what to place on our table. I feel grateful that, of all the uncertainties in life right now, I don’t have to wonder if we’ll have bread for our next meal.

Yet, maybe someday, I will be wondering if there will be anything to eat for the next meal.

When I think of that, I’m grateful for the stories of the past because they remind me of two truths: 1) people can get by on very little and 2) God provides. Certainly, we prefer variety and plenty in our food, but when push comes to shove, one really can be sustained on bread and broth or like the pioneers on bacon and hardtack. Then the Lord provides. Sometimes He provides by multiplying the 3 fish and 5 loaves. Other times He supplies by taking starving souls to feast with Him in heaven.

This is one of the blessings of history. We can prepare to face struggles courageously if we take time to study the past. And so, I am also grateful for authors like Liz Tolsma who take time to tell the life-like (albeit fictionalized) stories of those who have gone before us through times of plenty and times of poverty and watched God provide in His own ways.

He is, after all, the God Who makes the tulips grow through the snow.

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