Thursday, April 2, 2020

Harvesting Joy - Martin Wiles

The grapevines have dried up, and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple trees—all the fruit trees—have dried up. And the people’s joy has dried up with them. Joel 1:12 NLT

Had the harvest dried up, so would have my grandfathers’ joy.

At twelve years of age, my paternal grandfather inherited a farm. Not because he wanted it, but because his father unexpectedly died, and my grandfather was the oldest boy still at home. With the help of an uncle, and some cantankerous mules, they made a go of the farm. Had the harvest not come in due to unfortunate circumstances, the situation would have devastated my grandfather, his mother, and his brother and sisters, causing their joy to evaporate.

Mom’s dad was also a farmer, but not by force. He chose the occupation and relished every moment of it. He loved to watch cows calve, hogs birth piglets, cotton reveal fluffy white bowls, and soybeans fill their pods. But his joy, too, would have melted away had the harvest not come in. My grandmother didn’t work outside the home. Income from the farm was all they had. A bad harvest meant loss of money—or having to borrow from the bank until next year’s harvest came in.

Famers anticipate the harvest, and when it doesn’t come—for whatever reason—joy vanishes. Joel wrote to those steeped in an agricultural economy—an economy that locusts and drought had destroyed. And while both were an act of nature, they were an act of nature God had sent to punish the people’s disobedience. Now their joy had vanished.

We may use the words joy and happiness interchangeably, but they’re really not. Happiness relates to my circumstances. If everything is going my way, I’m happy. If adverse circumstances haunt me, I’m not.

Joy is happiness taken to a higher level. Joy has nothing to do with my circumstances. This is why Paul could tell us to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). I can experience a financial meltdown and still have joy. I can see loved ones die, contract a terminal disease, be abandoned by a spouse, have children rebel, or lose everything I have and still have a sense of joy in my heart.

And not because I can manufacture joy myself, but because God places it deep within my soul when I connect with Him through faith. Joy comes from believing that He controls my circumstances—good and bad—and that He will work things out for my benefit and His glory.

Don’t let circumstances keep you from harvesting joy.

Prayer: Spirit of God, we thank You for giving us an abiding joy, even through the trials of life.

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