Do you ever find that your mood changes with the weather? There is something about sunshine that seems to naturally lift our spirits and something about rainy days that is a little depressing. As someone whose job it is to harvest crops though, there is more to the discouragement of raining days than just an alteration in my body’s melatonin level; I can’t combine when it is raining and I need multiple days of sunshine to dry out most of the crops that I harvest!
This year those sunny days seemed hard to come by. We started our summer out hot and a little dry here in western New York, but just as we were getting into wheat harvest (mid-July), the weather pattern suddenly seemed to switch to a wet one. If the forecast said a chance of rain, it rained hard; if it didn’t call for rain, it often still came! As I worked through the wheat harvest, then oats, then buckwheat, and on into the soybean and corn harvests, this pattern of multiple days of rain then a brief day or two of sunshine persisted. In fact, it seemed to get worse as we moved into the fall progressing into the wettest October I can remember.
It was during this time that I noticed the drastic mood swings I was having . On the raining days I was frustrated, and felt increasingly overwhelmed with the unfinished work that was piling up. On the sunny days, when I was back in the combine getting things done, life was good again. Then it dawned on me, I was putting my hope in something that was ever changing- combining, farming, and my own sense of getting work done; and it just so happens that these things are greatly affected by the weather!
Now as a Christian, I know that God has commanded me to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) But how can we do that when the storms of life seem to constantly roll in one on top of another?
If your business is failing, or you just got diagnosed with cancer, or recently lost your spouse, or you are one of the California residents who lost their home to the wild fires, how can you possibly “be joyful always” and “give thanks in all circumstances?!” The answer is by putting your hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. For His love, grace, and saving power can never be taken away from you by the trials of this life (Romans 8:28). Even more, He holds in his hand all that is dear to you- your home, business, health, and loved ones, and He has promised to provide for your needs if you seek him (Matthew 6:25-34).
As a follower of Christ, I know from experience that He is worthy of all my hope. Yet I still often get distracted by and focus on the circumstances around me (like I did with the weather this fall); in doing so I forget God’s provision in the past. When this happens I start to get frustrated and worried, and at that point, it helps me to meditate on Philippians 4:4-7:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always..”– No matter what our circumstances, we always have reason to rejoice in the Lord for He has provided for us our greatest need; Jesus took the punishment for our sins on the cross so that we don’t have to face the Lord’s judgement for eternity in Hell (Mathew 10:28), but rather live forever in heaven with God as his child! (John 1:12) We just need to admit our sin and ask for God’s forgiveness (repentance) and to believe that Jesus died to pay for our sins on the cross and then He rose again three days later. We don’t have to completely understand this awesome mystery, we just need to seek to know Jesus. If you read the Bible and ask him your questions, He will give you the faith you need!
“The Lord is near..”-Though every person may abandon you, Jesus is always there with you. He understands like no other what you are going through. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,…” (Psalm 46:1-2)
“In everything, by prayer and petition…”-God wants us to be talking to Him about everything; he wants us to be in constant communication with Him; that’s why multiple times in the Bible he commands us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and to “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). This is not because He is looking to micromanage us (though He is sovereign over every detail of our lives), but rather because He desires a close and intimate relationship with us like a newly married couple who spends all their time together, enjoying hours of conversation just talking with each other. God’s love for us is more than we can imagine! (Ephesians 3:19) Our greatest joy in Heaven is going to be spending time with the Lord, enjoying his love, in His presence, as His treasured children. Though God knows what we need before we ask, He wants us to come to Him because He knows that if we focus on Him, our problems will begin to look small and our anxiety and fear will fade away. We serve a very big God!
“…with thanksgiving,”-God knows that there is real power in thankfulness. The devil tries to get us to see only our problems and disappointments which draws the eyes of our heart off of God and onto ourselves and our desires. This distorted view of reality is a quick road to discontentment, frustration, and sin. Continually thanking God for the good things He has brought into our lives gets our eyes off ourselves, and onto God. Giving thanks helps us to see the truth about God’s goodness and our blessed position as God’s children, and giving thanks ultimately fills our hearts with joy.
“…the peace of God which transcends all understanding…”- God does grant supernatural peace in the midst of suffering and difficulties to those who love God and who put their hope and trust in Him above all else. This peace is worth much more than financial success, perfect health, or the lack of pain.
Well the rains of October never did let up. They carried on into November and now have turned to snow covering the corn and beans that I need to combine. The struggle to harvest still continues, but I have seen the hand of God at work. Rain and snow days have come at opportune times to fix machinery and provide needed rest. The early bitter blast of winter cold froze the ground so that I could combine fields much too wet to get over before. Most importantly, the struggles of 2018 have pushed me to draw closer to God and to rely more on Him, while causing me to love the idols of combining and farming less.
So what about you; how have the storms of your life changed you this year? What is your hope in?
Romans 8:35-39Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 6:25-34…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well..
Matthew 10:28-31And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
John 1:12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
Ephesians 3:19…to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.