God used an agricultural picture to communicate to this agrarian culture. He was saying to His people, Joy will come in the morning! There is a time of tears, but don’t lose heart; there will also be a time for rejoicing. A farmer sows and then he waits, and waits and waits. But the time of harvest DOES come. You sow seed and it disappears into the ground. You see nothing, hear nothing, smell nothing, feel nothing – for a while. But under the earth, the seed is producing fruit and in due time, you get to see this fruit with your own eyes. You get to bring in the harvest, the sheaves, the provision. The seeds seem so small and insignificant, but the sheaves of grain are large and lush, more than enough for you and your family.
For all of us, there will be times of sowing – often with tears in our eyes. You sow prayer. You sow service. You sow time, energy or money. You sow love. And you see no fruit. You feel like you’re sowing into fallow ground. You feel like a fool. And then suddenly God. Suddenly the earth begins to tremble and you get a glimmer of breakthrough. You smell harvest in the air and all that sowing and all those tears are forgotten.
This is the scripture that blew through my mind like an East wind two weeks ago. I lay in my hospital bed starring at my new son. My three year old boy was at home with my husband and I savored those hours of rest and wonder. I remembered the years of sowing, sowing tears and agonized cries to the Lord. My greatest desire was for a husband and children and that seemed as far away as Kilimanjaro. I felt taunted by my desires and the reality of my situation. And I kept sowing. I claimed scriptures, latched onto promises, clutched vague hope. I sowed dim faith, trying to believe God, trust God, hope in God — though He was silent, so often, in this matter.
Here’s another scripture about harvest that strengthened me in those years:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Is 55:9-11)
Just as the rain causes seed to grow, the promises God whispers to us come to pass. We can count on the rain to do its work and we can count on God’s word to work as well.
Maybe you’ve been sowing for years, decades. Maybe harvest seems as far away as a mountain peak in a distant land: unattainable, almost impossible. Keep sowing despite tears clouding your vision. God is faithful. My husband and sons are my sheaves. You will also bring in your sheaves – with great rejoicing.