The writer David Needham provides one of my favorite illustrations of the Biblical truth that sometimes God delivers us from challenges, and sometimes He delivers us in our challenges. Needham imagines a wheat farmer and a tomato farmer with neighboring fields. Both farmers need the weather to cooperate for their crops to produce a successful harvest. The wheat requires one more good, soaking rain. The tomatoes, at the peak of their maturity and ready to be harvested, would be gravely damaged by heavy precipitation. Both farmers are devout believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and both are challenged financially to the degree that the success or failure of their crop will determine whether they keep their home and their lands. Most importantly, both pray fervently for God to provide for their particular need.
Needham poignantly describes the outcome. The wheat farmer and his family awaken in the middle of the night to hear the first tinkle of raindrops upon the tin roof of their home. Could it be? Has God sent the necessary showers? The tomato farmer and his family ask the same question in their hearts, but with trepidation that a crop-killing rain seems at hand. The rains do fall, to the great rejoicing of the wheat farmer and his family, but to their heartbrokenness of the other family. Both pray, however, and both express faith with tears, albeit with greatly different emotion and outlook.
Five years pass by. Needham depicts the breakfast scene of both families on the anniversary of that fateful night. The wheat farmer, prosperous and successful, gathers his wife and children for prayer, recalling God's abundant provision of rain. The tomato farmer does the same. However, he no longer owns his farm, but rather serves as a tenant after losing ownership when the torrents destroyed his crops those five years ago. The prayers of both men are very different, but also very similar. The wheat farmer joyfully gives thanks for so great a deliverance from the disaster that would have ensued had the rains not come - "Family, do you know what day this is? This is the fifth anniversary of the greatest crisis our family has ever gone through. Do you remember that night we prayed? And God heard our prayer, didn't He?… God has blessed us more than I ever dreamed! He deserves not only our thanks, but also our lives. Let's gather around the table and each one of us tell Him how much we love Him!"
The tomato farmer also joyfully gathers his family to offer gratitude in remembrance of that fateful night so long ago. "O God, thank You, thank You for your grace and goodness! At first that night seemed like such a catastrophe, and yet, o Father, how You have taught us things about Yourself! You have opened the door to a knowledge of You through our suffering we would never have known in any other way. God, you are so good!"
Sometimes from the furnace. Sometimes in the furnace. Sometimes God removes the thorn with His hand. Sometimes He provides grace with His heart. Either way, He can be trusted. "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds!" (Psalm 36:5). Indeed, we shall not be disappointed when we commit our way to Him, whether the rains fall when they seem so necessary, or when they apparently drown us in catastrophe. "His way is perfect" declared David (II Samuel 22:30). It will not always appear to be so, but it will always be so. Let us remember and affirm so great a trustworthiness, and so great a power whereby God reveals His provision in perfect application of loving wisdom…
"He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded."
(I Peter 2:6)
Weekly Memory Verse
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.