Chosen to Harvest
A Harvest of Joy
A Song of Ascents.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain.
We are made to harvest. Sometimes we confuse harvest with prosperity though. We want to harvest wealth. We want blessing, honor, and power. We want respect. We want all this and more, and we want it yesterday.
I remember being unemployed and technically homeless several years ago. It frustrated me how my email inbox would fill up with get-rich-quick schemes every day, tempting me to part with the little money I had in a gamble for a quick return. Those businesses tapped into my basic desire to be a harvester and tried to exploit it. We all have that need. We want to work and have our work bring us gainful purpose.
Paul struggled leaving the churches he helped start because he was not able to harvest the fruit of his labor. He wanted to see people grow in their faith. Perhaps he wanted to test his teachings, to see if they stood up to the experience of others. More specifically, he wanted to be sure the people had not been pulled away by lies… specifically lies about things to do to get blessings more quickly.
The Psalmist reminds us that our fortunes come from God ultimately, and that what we reap is based upon what we sow. Yet he does not equate reaping blessing by sowing blessing . Instead he says, “Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” Sadness does not guarantee success. But not sowing at all promises nothing. In a strange way, I think God just wants us to try, and to try our best. When we sow out of our poverty, God provides in ways that pick up where our strength ends. Often, there is even a little left over. In this way we truly do rejoice as we bring in our harvest, our sheaves, because we worked hard sowing, came up short but found more than we expected come harvest time.
What do you harvest?
What do you hope to harvest?