With September comes the harvest season. In our nearly 40 years of gardening in Logan, possibly due to this summer’s heat, we have had one of our best harvests ever. Early in our marriage we grew an heirloom dry bean we called “Hodgdon beans.” We never knew its real name, but we were told that when my grandfather’s family moved west to homestead in Oregon that they brought this bean with them. It was handed down from generation to generation.
Over the years, as our gardens got smaller, we planted fewer and fewer of the beans until at some point we stopped planting them all together. Then, a few years ago we rediscovered them and planted them again. However, while a few did sprout each year, we got fewer plants until the last few seeds resulted in nothing. This was not only a loss for us, but a generational loss as I am unaware of any of my grandfather’s ancestors that continued to plant the beans.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that there are “times and seasons” for everything. This is lived out in my example as it says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” (3:1-2) God created our world with times and seasons. These are not created by us nor are they controlled by us; knowing this should bring us comfort and peace.
Why? I think the answer is captured in a song written by Jo Petch that says, “seasons come and seasons go, but You remain the same. In the highest times of joy, in the darkest place of pain Your love sustains Your love remains unchanging God, faithful forever” In a world of constant change it is good for us to find an anchor that holds us securely.
Listen to how the song continues, “God of the future, you’re God of the past. All history belongs to You, You hold us in your hands. You’re God of tomorrow, You’re God of today; in every circumstance we will praise, we will praise.” We may say Amen to this, but the question is if we are living out that Amen.
What I mean is that it is easy to say that I am trusting in the Lord for my future, but how am I doing when, like my beans, there are seasons without a harvest. Today’s ease of life can condition us to believe that ease is our “God-given right.” Then, in those seasons of troubles or trials or drought, we immediately jump to the conclusion that God has lost control or that He doesn’t care.
However, yielding to this reveals a shallowness of our faith. Instead, we must learn that we can trust that, “You hold us in your hands. You’re God of tomorrow, you’re God of today.” This is what Moses says in his prayer in Psalm 90, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn people back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, you mortals.’ A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (2-4)
Now, possibly more than at any other time, during those seasons of drought, we need to remember the Lord’s promise to continue to hold us in His hands. The season may seem long, but we can have hope knowing that the Lord is not only mindful of those dry seasons but that He is in control too. Knowing that He is God from “everlasting to everlasting” helps me have the proper perspective.
How about you? In those dry seasons where little seems to be happening, or even worse, when the seasons are painful, where will you look to for hope? Have you found that God is a reliable, trustworthy source for hope? Or are you finding it difficult to live out that Amen?
While I am uncertain about where to turn to find some of those “Hodgdon beans,” I do know that in God I can find hope in the seasons of life. How can I be certain? Because I have experienced the truth of Paul’s words, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)
Eldon Peterson is pastor of the Cache Valley Bible Fellowship. His column appears on the Faith page. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.