As we finish out 2020, what should our response be to the circumstances we find ourselves in? Some of the circumstances are hard while others are pleasant. Whether we are in hard circumstances due to our choices, someone else’s choices, or results of a fallen people or creation, we can rest assured that God is sovereign over them all. No amount of whining, complaining, arguing, finger pointing, demanding, or sulking will bring us the joy or peace (well-being of soul) that we long for.
The Puritans that helped found our country can give us some insights on how to respond to hard times. The Puritans had a strong moral consciousness, placed the Bible central to all of life, and valued education. They believed in the doctrine of grace, personal regeneration, covenantal relationships, Scripture as the final authority, and Providence. “The Puritans were less interested in the idea of self-fulfillment than duty, which they regarded both as a responsibility of the covenant and a condition of life within any social unit.” The Puritan’s character and beliefs anchored their souls in hard times.
Furthermore, the Puritans prayers (where we peer into their inner lives) can open our eyes to what we could be thanking God for in the midst of hard times:
O MY GOD, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil; for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding; for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.
Expressing thankfulness to God for what we do have brings us the peace and joy that we long for in hard times. Being people of biblical beliefs and character will also bring us peace and joy in the midst of challenging circumstances. The Puritans left us an example of successful living in hard times. How could their example give your soul an anchor amidst hard times?
For your consideration: Arthur Bennett, ed. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions East Peoria, IL: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975. Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009. Leland Ryken’s book, Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986.
 “Puritans Leave for Massachusetts,” Image, Mass Moments, accessed October 21, 2020, https://www.massmoments.org/moment-details/puritans-leave-for-massachusetts.html#&gid=1&pid=1.
 Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 16.
 Arthur Bennett, ed. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (East Peoria, IL: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 15.