Monday, August 15, 2016
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Our friends have a nice vegetable garden and they wanted it to be nicer. So, they decided to try the Squanto method. You might remember from your American history that Squanto was the Native American who helped the Pilgrims survive by teaching them about corn, and especially about how to get it to grow – by burying a dead fish with the seed as fertilizer. Remembering that little secret, our friends brought home a bunch of dead fish from the New Jersey Shore and they buried those fish in their garden with their vegetable seeds. Well, as time wore on, the fish announced their presence to the entire neighborhood – with a horrendous stink! Now, it is possible that no suburban garden has ever smelled so bad. That's the bad news, but the good news is that they were literally overwhelmed with the harvest of vegetables that year! They were hauling it in faster than they could eat it, freeze it, or can it. They called a lot of their friends and begged them to come over and get some vegetables. Yes, the stench was pitiful, but the harvest that came from it was bountiful!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Painful Times, Beautiful Harvest."
Let's face it! There are things that happen in our lives that just plain stink like our friends' fertilized garden, and when everything stinks you usually can't see anything good about it. You might be in one of those painful seasons right now. If so, it's important for you to remember something that is easy to forget. The things in our lives that really stink are used by God to ultimately produce a wonderful harvest.
Maybe we should figure that out just from the way we all entered the world-through this painful process called labor. But the pain of the process – which is very real and very intense–is ultimately overshadowed by the beautiful result of that baby. And take it from our daughter or our two daughters-in-law. They love every day with their children; the beautiful result that lasted a lot longer than their painful process.
This idea of what I'm calling the "beautiful stink" is explained in our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 5 beginning at verse 3. Paul, who experienced many of the things in life that stink, says, "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us."
Now, like our friends with the fishy garden, God calls us to endure the stink. That's called perseverance-hanging in there, not giving up, not losing hope, not turning our back on Him, and we'll harvest what the Bible calls character. Right now you might need some encouragement, a reminder of the great harvest that may come through this hard-to-bare season of your life.
For example, it's our hard times that give us a more tender heart so we can help heal other hurting people. God may use this unpleasant season to give you a ministry you have never had before, or to bring you into a new humility, a new closeness to people you love, new priorities that clarify the things that really matter and the things that really don't. Your suffering might be God's means of giving people an opportunity to pour out love on you, or of bringing you closer to Him than you've ever been, or to experience His grace and His power in a measure you have never touched before.
Maybe the harvest of your hard times will be some deep relationships, forged in the crucible, or a firsthand faith in God, rather than one that is just your family's or your church's, or maybe even people going to heaven someday because they saw Jesus in you during your time of great pain.
It's a Law of Life – God brings beautiful results out of painful processes. But you do have to make it through the stink first. Just ask our gardener friends – thinking about the great harvest coming doesn't make the stench go away but it sure helps you endure it. Down the road, when you're hauling in the overwhelming harvest of God's goodness in your life, you know, the stink won't matter much anymore.