Each fall for countless generations, Cornish gleaners would hear a familiar euphoric cry from the master of the harvest: “Yma genef! Yma genef! Yma genef!” This jubilant shout signified that the last crop had been cut, so field laborers would gather to lift up their own joyous reply because their season of toil had ended, and a great time of celebration was about to commence.
Most of us can understand the reason behind such enthusiasm, although we may never have experienced an agrarian lifestyle. Indeed, people around the world appreciate the benefits that an ample harvest brings to their individual homes. Yet even with such autumnal blessings, many in 2021 may not feel like celebrating anything. The fallout from a global pandemic is still creating a plethora of problems. There’s also an unbearable amount of worldwide atrocities delivered to us daily in the news. More locally, some in leadership have failed us while a few families we know are floundering.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by life’s circumstances right now, you are not alone. Actually, centuries ago the Apostle Paul shared how the difficulties of this world are particularly challenging for Christians:
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
Romans 8:23-25, New Living Translation
Like those early believers, today’s Christ followers know a better season is on the horizon. Once you and I accept Jesus as our Savior, we are given the promise of eternal life (John 3:16; I John 5:11-12). And although pain, grief, and even groaning are normal reactions to living in a fallen world, we’re encouraged to do more than mourn our losses. Instead, in these verses we are urged to “wait with eager hope” for God’s perfect plan to unfold which includes an amazing future we can’t even imagine (Jeremiah 29:11; I Thessalonians 5:9).
Why would God have us wait for the joys of Heaven, which include new healthy bodies that will never again experience the pain brought on by sin? The answer to this query involves the most important harvest season the Lord has sanctioned, as the Apostle Peter explains:
The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent . . . and remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters . . .
II Peter 3:9, 15-16a
What are we waiting for? God’s timing—not only for our futures but also for the many souls yet to be saved. The seeds of salvation are still being planted, and the Lord is patiently gathering all who wish to join His forever family. Jesus made this mission clear when He shared a farming analogy with the disciples:
You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!
Since the Lord’s mission is focused on gathering souls, those of us who follow Him can take up this mantle while we await our “full rights as His adopted children.” In other words, while we “wait with eager hope,” we can be involved in His harvest process. And notice what is bestowed upon those who choose to work alongside Him: Joy! Joy in 2021? Joy in the midst of problems, even a pandemic? Yes, most definitely yes! The Lord is the purveyor of joy, and He wants to share this jubilant feeling with His co-laborers.
As we slowly shift into this fall season, remember another much-anticipated shout is coming soon. When He deems the timing is right, “the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout.” This will signal the end of His harvest season for “the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Can you participate more in the Lord’s mission? Despite what you are going through, could you help plant seeds that may lead to someone’s salvation? Would you join in the efforts of fellow believers and assist in the gathering of souls, decreasing the number of those who might cry “the harvest is finished, and the summer is gone . . . yet we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20)?
May you experience great joy this Harvest season as you await the Lord’s return with eager anticipation!
Thought of the Season
The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So, pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.