It Pleased God
Posted: November 1, 2019
“Providence” is a fancy word that means, “It pleased God.”
Governor William Bradford wrote of the Pilgrims’ voyage and experiences in his book, Of Plymouth Plantation. In it, he describes the Mayflower’s harrowing passage across the Atlantic Ocean. He tells how skies unfolded, wind whipped sails, and waves rocked the small ship—threatening to tear it apart. He also tells how God kept the pilgrims safe.
John Howland was a pilgrim on the Mayflower. When a terrible storm came, John fell overboard. In the blink of an eye, wind and waves swept him off the ship. Governor Bradford wrote, “but it pleased God that he caught hold of the top-sail ropes, though he was deep under water, and held on until he was hauled up by the same rope, and his life was saved.”
Governor Bradford wrote “It pleased God” because he knew that everything happens according to God’s plans. And he knew that God had plans for John Howland in America. He became a leader. He signed an important document, the Mayflower Compact. John became an elected official. His family flourished in America. Records show that two million people can trace their family line back to John Howland! That includes presidents Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
Yes, John Howland’s accident is a reminder of God’s providence. And William Bradford’s book tells many other ways—often surprising ways—that God took care of the Pilgrims. Nearing shore, they came upon dangerous rocks and currents. But it pleased God to lead them safely to shore. Facing hunger and with nothing to plant, it pleased God that they would discover a buried treasure—corn kernels left behind by Indians. Alone in a new land, it pleased God to send Samoset, an Indian able to speak their language.
William Bradford wrote that the Pilgrims blessed God in all these things. The Pilgrims recalled God’s care of the Israelites recorded in the Bible. God watched over Israel in the wilderness. He brought them to the Promised Land (Joshua 1-3). He gave them food when they were hungry (Exodus 16). He made an escape route when they were trapped (Exodus 14:21-22). He led them with a cloud when they didn’t know where to go (Numbers 9:21).
The Pilgrims often felt like the Israelites. And just like the Israelites, they often saw God’s Providence. They praised Him for taking care of them. We can trust Him to care for us too!