It was a hard winter. The three months at sea had left the 102 pilgrims weak and suffering from scurvy. Wading from the Mayflower up to the shores of their Promised Land, trudging through the winter snow, and finally sleeping on the damp ground had caused lingering colds, which, for many, turned to pneumonia, and tuberculosis.
The pilgrims, a people known for their absolute trust in God, were in a battle for their lives. There was still so much work to be done and so little was known about the land and how to cultivate it. In December six died. In January – eight. As Peter Marshall writes in The Light and the Glory:
… they were falling like casualties on a battlefield. And in a sense that is what they were: locked in a life-or-death struggle with Satan himself. For this was the first time that the Light of Christ had landed in force on his continent, and if he did not throw them back into the sea at the beginning, there would be reinforcements.”
As the winter progressed so did their troubles. One icy day in January the nearly completed common house was packed to the brim with sick Pilgrims. Suddenly the roof was ablaze with flames! If it were not for the supernatural strength given to some of the sick, and the fact that the timbers of the roof did not catch fire, they would have surely perished in the flames.
Where these Christian warriors were weak in body they made up for it in spiritual fortitude. When circumstances loomed dark, they prayed harder to the only One they knew could save them.
In February, 17 more lives were lost. March – 13!
Where was God? When was He going to help His dying people? Was it really His will they begin a God-centered society in which citizens were free to worship Him without the imposition of the government?
If so, when would hope break through?
But still their faith continued. Their hearts never hardened. They pressed on. When the worse was over they had fared better than their counterpart Jamestown.
They still had a lot to learn. How could they possibly fare through Spring when their numbers had almost dropped in half? Was there hope indeed for these God-fearing people?
Yes, hope would come in an unexpected form – the form of an Indian.