Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – Psalm 103:2
Thanksgiving is a day to remember all God’s benefits and blessings. In Christ believers receive innumerable spiritual blessings and benefits. Who can calculate all God’s kindnesses and mercies to us in Jesus? Forgiveness, justification, fellowship with God, joy inexpressible and full of glory, the hope of seeing Christ’s face are but a few of his incredible blessings.
Thanksgiving is also a day we can thank God for his “common grace”. Common grace is the kindness God shows to all men, saved and unsaved. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt. 5:45).
I recently read a story of God’s mercy in the Mexican war in 1846. It is recounted in the book Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides.
General Stephen Watts Kearny led a force of 100 dragoons to fight against a few hundred Mexican caballeros led by Capt. Andres Pico in the Battle of San Pasqual. The dragoons were confident their guns would decimate the Mexicans who were armed primarily with lances, but discovered in the heat of battle that their ammunition had gotten damp during the night, and their guns wouldn’t fire. The Mexican lances shredded the Americans. The Americans who escaped camped on a hill called Mule Hill surrounded by the enemy, awaiting reinforcements.
Sides says that many were wounded and “had developed gangrene or horrible infections in the deep punctures left by the lances.” Then he tells this story which displays God’s mercy to a dying soldier.
One member of the party, a French trapper named Robideaux who had lost a great amount of blood was hovering near death. The men had more or less written off the poor fellow, who in his death agonies kept hallucinating that he smelled coffee—a luxury no one traveling with Kearny had seen or tasted in months. “Don’t you smell it?” Robideaux beseeched them. “A cup of coffee would save my life!”
Everyone knew that the mountain men were all inveterate coffee addicts—especially the French—so Lieutenant Emory believed that the doomed man was simply exercising a final Gallic nostalgia before passing on to his reward. “I supposed a dream had carried him back to the cafes of St. Louis and New Orleans,” Emory said.
But he was soon shocked to find that Robideaux was right—somewhere in the camp a cook was indeed heating up a cup of coffee over a sagebrush fire. Emory went over and persuaded him to give it up to the dying Frenchman. Says Emory: “One of the most agreeable little offices performed in my life, and I believe in the cook’s , was to pour this precious draught into the waning body of our friend Robideaux. His warmth returned, and with it hopes of life.” Robideaux soon recovered and swore for the rest of his days that he owed his life to coffee.
I love this story. In his mercy, God gave a dying French trapper a cup of coffee and many more days of life.
As you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving feast today thank God for his kindness in saving you through the blood of Jesus, and thank him for his common grace and goodness in giving us blessings like food and drink. I know that after I finish my turkey, I’ll cry out to my wife Kristi, “A cup of coffee would save my life!”
Originally published 11/22/07
photo by feverblue