This is an online version of my column for the Billericay & Wickford Gazette.
For many farmers, the summer harvest has past and the remnants of harvested crops have been destroyed. The soil has already been turned into neat rows and borders, ready for sowing. Their work – the daily wrestling with the soil – goes on all year round. After planting, they will scrupulously monitor the soil, fertilising it, searching it for weeds, scrutinising it for signs of pests or worms. And then they will wait. Giving time and space for the sun and the rain and the mysterious and miraculous work of seeds becoming sprouts becoming stalks becoming another harvest for us to eat.
The Farmer Is An Example Of Faith
It’s no wonder the Bible encourages us to look to the farmer as an example of faith. When the Apostle Paul tells his protégé, Timothy, to be strong in the grace of Jesus, he points specifically toward the hard-working farmer (2 Timothy 2:6). When he exhorts the Galatian churches toward endurance, he speaks of perennial planting and patient waiting for an inevitable harvest (Galatians 6:9).
The Farmer Is Committed To The Harvest
Farming is not a typical job. It’s a way of life. A lifelong commitment. Farmers are often connected to a specific place. They inherit land where previous generations have farmed before them. They have deep roots. Every investment in equipment, every decision regarding the precise planting time, every weed uprooted – is all done with the harvest in mind. Just as generations have done before them.
The Farmer Lives And Works By Faith
Farming is backbreaking work. Dirty work. Detailed work. And, most of all, it is risky work. There aren’t any guarantees there will be a harvest. A farmer looks ahead with a cautious optimism as the harvest approaches each year, knowing that, at the last minute the weather can change and how there is nothing he can do to protect his crop. How many times do we hear heart-breaking stories of crops destroyed by a dry summer or flash flooding? All that work, dirt and waiting, for nothing.
The Farmer Enjoys A Unique Reward
Ask a farmer what is constantly on their mind, and they would say ‘the harvest.’ When they are knee deep in manure. When the irrigation line bursts. When they are working sun-up to sun-down in the summer. Especially then. It’s the time of the year they work the hardest, but it’s the most satisfying. They’ve made it through another year; another crop grown and now it’s time for the financial rewards.
The Farmer Finds Joy In The Harvest
The greatest satisfaction in the harvest belongs to the one who carefully cultivated it along the way: the hard-working farmer. As Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:6, the farmer is the one: ‘who ought to have the first share of the crops.’ Joy results from the farmer’s long-term faithfulness. He is content in his work and in seeing what it’s produced over the year.
Many schools and churches will be planning harvest festival services in September but may all of us remember the all year round, hardworking farmer, and all they do for us and for God’s provision as you remember those words from the harvest hymn:
All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above; Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all His love.
Be sure to say a prayer of thankfulness for the farmer and for God’s provision next time you sit down to enjoy a meal.