Psalms 126:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Ever since our podcast on the movie Courageous I’ve been pondering the idea that harvest does not come without going through sacrifice. Certainly in the farming community harvest does not occur without the process of planning and labor, a sacrifice of time and money and sweat. But what about when those sacrifices, followed by fire or drought or war, don’t end up with silos full of grain?
What about when missionaries spend decades evangelizing and the fruit looks rotten? What about Jesus’ own disciples, having sacrificed all, ending up not with health and wealth but with painful deaths and imprisonment? And John Piper recently tweeted, “Between 1920 and 1990 some 20 million died in the Russian Gulag (prison camps). Some 200,000 Christian leaders were martyred.” What was the fruit of those martyrs? I don’t personally (and perhaps shamefully so) know the name of even one.
I suppose it is how “harvest” is defined. Throughout the scriptures there are many laws regarding agricultural harvests and the endtimes are defined by a similar theme of harvesting the righteous out from the tares. But the harvest is always God’s fruit and God’s working; it is He who withholds, and it is He who sends, rain in its proper season. And the “proper season” is always His timing, His methods, His perfect plan. I’m afraid that when Christians put in the *work* of Bible study, prayer, earnest employment, good health habits, faithful child raising and so forth, we expect, nay demand the harvest that we have sowed for in hope. Sometimes the harvest is rich. But sometimes the end is grief, loss, destruction, death, even if the labor was faithful.
So whose harvest is it all, really? Does the work of martyrs have no fruit? Do faithful mothers who end up burying children have nothing to rejoice in? Perhaps there is a difference in expecting a rich end to our labors, to just being faithful in the time and day of bearing precious seed and planting, and then humbly trusting God for the results.
The harvest is always in the Lord’s hands. Let us stay faithful to our God and our calling, even if our labors end in weeping, even if it looks to us as going backwards, as pointless in our own finite minds and calloused hands, knowing that He has promised joy in the morning to come (Ps 30:5). He is worthy of our trust.
note: see the Christian Writer’s Blog Chain for more thoughts on the theme of Harvest