Restore our fortunes, LORD, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. – Psalm 126:4-6
When I was in high school, I spent two summers on my sister’s farm in Montana. I loved Big Sky country and farm life because the whole community was engaged in the risks and rewards inherent in trying to make a living off the land. Discussing the weather in Montana during harvest is not small talk. It’s vital. They need rain, but not too much rain. Sun, but not too much sun. And please, dear
God, no hail.
My sister and her husband lived in a region notorious for its hailstorms. Often they hit without warning and seemed almost vindictive in the way they moved through the area, devastating some fields and skipping others entirely.
Some farmers believed in insuring themselves against the possibility of hail, and some did not. Consequently, though everyone hoped and prayed and worked for a bountiful harvest, not everyone experienced one. Every year, it seemed, harvest stirred different emotions in different people.
I’ve never farmed a piece of land myself, but I’ve certainly felt like the hailed-out farmer before.
Have you ever mourned the devastation of your own land while watching someone else haul in a bumper crop?
Jeremiah must have felt the same way, because he tossed out this terse question to the Lord:
Yet let me plead and reason the case with You: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are all they at ease and thriving who deal very treacherously and deceitfully? – Jeremiah 12:1
It’s one thing when we feel we’ve been overlooked by a friend or family member, but it’s another altogether when we feel disregarded by God Himself.
Overlooked. Hailed out. Sometimes we avoid these questions, feeling they’re too dangerous to ask, but Jeremiah didn’t shy away from the tough stuff. I like that. It opens up new realms of authenticity in my own relationship with God when I see that Jeremiah got away with it.
And so I’ve asked, Why Steve, who has worked hard and served You all his life? Why the man I love, while his children are young and still need a dad? Why me, when I’ve given my life to Your kingdom and worked really hard to be the good girl I think You want me to be? Oh, believe me, I’ve asked. And Jesus, in His faithfulness, has answered in ways that leave no room for doubt. He has convinced me of His passionate care and love—in the presence of our enemies and in the absence of a visible bumper crop.
The truth is, God doesn’t overlook us. Any of us.
He knows each hair on our heads and each thought in our minds and each word that does or doesn’t make it out of our mouths. He knows and cares, like a mother cares for her new baby. He cares, like a husband cares for his darling wife. But His caring does not keep us from all battle. In fact, in His goodness, He walks with us into battle and helps us find the beauty buried there.
In the past three years, I have learned that one of the sneakiest thieves of my joy and freedom is comparison.
When I look at someone else’s success or good fortune or health as the enemy of my own, then I am on the fast track to inconsolable misery.
God is for me and with me, and His love does not leave me stranded or alone, no matter how much I may feel it when I view someone else’s big win.
I can be certain that my win is on the way because He is good and just and He will not be in debt to me. I will plant with all my heart because I know that my harvest is coming and that I will haul those sheaves in with rejoicing.
Finding Hidden Hope
Think of a time when you have questioned the equal distribution of God’s blessings. Now think of everyone you know who has less than you have. Take a moment to thank Him for His gifts in your life and to ask Him for what you need.
Lord of the harvest, I step beneath Your rainfall of grace. Neither withering hail nor winsome sun can separate me from Your love. Bless this battleground, watered with tears. May it yield a harvest of hope for a hungry world. Amen.
Watch the When Holidays Hurt Video
Excerpted with permission from When Holidays Hurt by Bo Stern, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2014.
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