The Cornmeal Answer
Coming, Mother," called 13-year-old Helen as she sprang up the back steps of the little cabin. But a glance at the table clouded her cheerful countenance. She dragged her feet on the rough board floor and sat down listlessly at the table. She groaned when it was time to say the blessing.
"Mother, how can we be thankful for cornmeal? We've had nothing but cornmeal three times a day for two months.
It wasn't so bad before Bossie died. At least we had milk with the cornmeal."
Mother glanced out the window at the fast-growing garden. "Be patient just a few more weeks. Then we'll have plenty to eat."
As Helen helped with the dishes afterward, she thought to herself, I'm so tired of cornmeal. I'll never swallow another bite–no matter how hungry I am.
The next morning Mother called, "Dress quickly, Helen. We're going somewhere."
"It's a surprise," Mother answered. "Please take this small bucket, and fill it with cornmeal from the bin."
"Cornmeal! That horrid stuff!" Helen exploded. "What are you going to do with it?"
"Wait and see," Mother answered calmly.
A few minutes later Helen held the horse's head as Mother hitched up the light wagon. She was puzzled. Where were they taking the cornmeal? Surely no one would want it–not cornmeal. Traveling slowly, they went on and on, turning off at last on a narrow lane.
"I know, I know!" Helen exclaimed. "We're going to the Hitchcocks'. But why, Mother? You do the strangest things."
"I've been thinking about the family," Mother replied. "They haven't been to our branch Sabbath school for two Sabbaths. Before that, Mrs. Hitchcock seemed to enjoy the lessons very much and said she wanted to know more about the Bible."
Mother climbed out of the wagon and tied the horse to a fence post. Helen reluctantly followed to the door of the tumbledown shack.
When she knocked, Bernice, who was wearing a ragged dress, opened the door. "We're glad to see you," she exclaimed. "Mother is ill, and the baby is so fussy."
"Did you bring us something to eat?" piped up little Tommy.
"Why?" gasped Helen as she glanced toward the table, which was set, ready for a meal.
"You see," said Bernice, "when we had worship this morning we asked Jesus to send us something to eat. Your mother told us at Sabbath school that Jesus always answers prayer."
"Come with me," Helen beckoned, and taking Bernice's hand, she led her to the wagon and showed her the bucket of cornmeal. There were also two jars that Helen didn't know Mother had brought. One was full of peanut butter, and the other contained molasses.
"Oh, I'm so happy," Bernice exclaimed. "I can make cornmeal mush. Tommy likes it so much."
Then Bernice told Helen that her mother had been ill for several days. Her father was away looking for work, and she had been trying to do what she could to take care of the children and make her mother as comfortable as possible. But they had had very little to eat for two days now. And since they didn't know how soon her father would return, they had prayed for food.
On the way home Helen sat by her mother on the wagon seat. "To think anyone would be so happy to have a little cornmeal," she said. "I'm never going to grumble about it again. And Mother, you really do fix it up in many different ways–corn bread, corn pone, mush, pudding."
Helen said no more for a while. Mother noticed that her mind seemed to be far, far away.
At last the girl took a deep breath and said reverently, "Mother, did you notice that our cornmeal answered those children's prayers? Who would have thought cornmeal could be so wonderful?"