Samuel Fuller is a name that most people will never know. (At least the “Samuel Fuller” I’m writing about – there’s bound to more than one in this world ya’ know!) The reason I say that is, well, I am Samuel’s 11th great-granddaughter. Samuel was born in 1608 in England, the son of Edward Fuller. (At this point, the name of Edward’s wife is unknown, but let’s call her Ann.) In 1620, Samuel and his parents Edward and Ann, joined 150 other persons on a journey that would bring them to America. The voyage was treacherous. They sailed through autumn storms, the ship’s provisions were low from the get go because the other ship accompanying them kept leaking and they all had to return to England for a time. Also, in the midst of this, a very important support timber was fractured and had to be repaired at sea. On top of the problems outside (the feisty winds from the storms) the inside of the ship wasn’t the most comfortable place to be either. Not only were there 150 passengers cramped together in limited space, but back then they traveled with live animals like dogs and sheep and goats. It must have been a long journey…(if you know what I mean!) If you’re wondering how I can know all of this about my ancestors, it’s because of this…the ship that the Fuller’s sailed on was The Mayflower.
Unfortunately, for The Mayflower and its passengers, the hardships they faced weren’t confined to their trek through the sea. When the Pilgrims finally reached land it was in the middle of winter and heavy snow blanketed the ground. The harsh conditions kept everyone on the ship until March. Then it happened. A contagious disease broke out among the passengers. Historians believe it was a mix of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Half of the crew died and when they disembarked in the spring, only 53 passengers remained. Sadly, Edward and Ann Fuller didn’t survive the first winter…but Samuel did. (It is thought that he would have been around 12 years old at that time.) Samuel went to live with his aunt and uncle Dr. Samuel Fuller (who were also Mayflower passengers). Samuel and his uncle, who was a doctor, shared the same first name.
Samuel would have been at the feast that would be remembered as The First Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but I wonder how a 12 year old boy who recently lost both his parents managed to be thankful. I wonder if he cried himself to sleep at night or questioned God why He let his parents die?
Even in the 20th century with all our advancements, technology and gadgets, grief and heartache still find a way into our lives. My family has had a taste of that this year. On Thanksgiving Day we will feel the absence of a loved one at our table. Like Samuel, we’ll have to find a way to be thankful through the pain.
These things reminded me of Psalm 77. Asaph wrote, “I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed…I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? Will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore?…and I said, this is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?”
Our present circumstances may not be picture-perfect or ideal, but even so, we can still find something to be thankful for! Asaph did it by thinking about the wonderful things the Lord did for Israel in the past. I don’t know how Samuel Fuller did it, but I do know how we can do it. Simply praising God for who He is. The imperfect world we live in does not diminish how great, powerful and good our Heavenly Father is!
“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.” – Psalm 116:17
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” – Psalm 68:19
“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” – Psalm 107:21