There was a critical moment in the American Revolution when George Washington and his troops were stuck. It was the winter of 1777 and 1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. There were no barracks awaiting them. When the spot to winter was chosen, they put up as many temporary quarters as they could to house some 12,000 troops.
One of the more graphic pictures we get is from Washington himself. He wrote about seeing shoeless soldiers tracking blood in the snow. Shoes and clothes fell apart from the long marches. The huts were no match for the cold Pennsylvania winds. They couldn’t keep dry from the snow and rain. Food was scarce. Because of the lack of food hundreds of horses died from starvation and their dead bodies lay around the camp.
With no winter clothes and living crowded in damp quarters the army was ravaged by disease – 2,500 soldiers died that winter. With all his pleas for help to congress, they were unable to help. Morale was at an all time low.
Then unexpectedly a visitor showed up who would be influential in turning things around. His name was Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian. He came to help as a volunteer. There was one thing Von Steuben knew how to do. He knew how to drill soldiers, instill discipline, pride, teamwork, and morale.
Before his coming there had been no standards for marching or maneuvering. He showed them the power of marching as a unit. Von Steuben raised the standard for the Continental army. That winter he took a group of individualist and molded them into the fighting force Washington would need later on.
As the winter at Valley Forge turned into spring, congress signed a treaty with the French. Finally, because of French support, they were able to pay their soldiers and offer financial incentives. This was a major turning point in the war. Much needed new, fresh recruits filled the ranks.
A disciplined army, needed funds, a treaty, and fresh recruits all came after standing fast through the long winter months. Of all of his great qualities, George Washington knew how to stand firm, to be steadfast. As you look at Washington, many of the breakthroughs in his career came from just hanging in there.
Have you ever felt like you were going through a winter season, a Valley Forge,? What do you do?
Ephesians 6:13-14a – Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore…
I want to encourage you to just hang in there. Don’t retreat or give up. Stand your ground. Be steadfast. Immovable. Hopes happen when you hang in there. Good things come to those who don’t jump ship. They get to the other side. So, having done all to stand, stand therefore.
(Source – His Excellency – George Washington, by Joseph J. Ellis, pg. 112-119)