an abundant harvest
It is interesting that I was asked to pen some thoughts on 'an abundant harvest' when it’s a topic I’m struggling with currently. Funny how the Lord gets your attention sometimes, isn’t it? Our lives as a family have felt more like a valley in recent months than anything close to ‘an abundant harvest’. As I type this, I’m barely a month away from sending our oldest child off to college. A daughter who lives with epilepsy and in what feels like bad timing, her epilepsy ‘flared up’ this spring, causing her doctors to decide that it was time for a med change - right before she heads off to college. All of this happened just a few short months after her brother had emergency surgery for a life-threatening condition. I could go on and list more ‘valley’ circumstances over the past several years, but let me ask this: what does an abundant harvest look like to you?
It is so easy to look around and see other people’s harvests. I often compare my harvest to everyone else’s. They have a larger income, their children are healthy without any major medical conditions, they’re so physically fit, they’ve been on all of these amazing vacations, and so on. In the meantime, I sometimes feel like I’m reaping such a small harvest, if anything at all. All I can see are the struggles and ‘rocks in my field’. Children with major medical conditions, a very carefully balanced budget, arthritis, etc. These rocks and ruts loom in front of me making it hard to see the harvest that the Lord is providing.
blessings along the way...
If you looked at the landscape of our family’s lives over the past several years from a distance, you might see a lot of valleys. My mom passed away just as I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Our second child was born with spina bifida - a medically complicated condition. My husband lost his job. Our first child was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) at age seven. Then that same child began having seizures a little over a year after ending chemo. The epilepsy has become more exhausting and scary than the cancer treatment ever was. From a distance, there have been a lot of valleys.
But if you zoom in and look closely, there have been so many blessings along the way. So many that I could easily write a short book, or maybe even a medium-sized book, about all of the ways God has blessed us. For example, I can look back and see that He purposely placed several people in our paths long before we knew how vital they would be to our journey. Times when the doctors had no explanation for the turnarounds, recoveries, and advancements our kids made. When timing seemed to be perfect. Well, maybe perfect AFTER the fact because I always have my ideas about perfect timing, but Lord often has a different plan.
The important thing for me is to keep my eyes focused on the Lord and open to what He is doing. It can be so easy to get weighed down by the things of the world that we miss the blessings that the Lord is bestowing upon us. Maybe we see the big things, like a complete healing, or a huge check in the mail during a financial crisis, or a life saved. The little blessings are just as important, but can be hard to see.
Even more importantly, though, we can remember that even when we have struggles, they are in and of themselves a blessing. Paul tells us in Romans 5, “...we also glory in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3b-5). Paul also reminds us in Romans 8:18, “...our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
trust in the Lord...
As I continually try to find all the ways, big and little, that the Lord is blessing me, I also want to remember that these blessings are not what I should be trusting in. I am to trust in the Lord, no matter how big or small my harvest is. Because the size of the harvest does not matter; it is from whom the harvest comes.
Dala Alderman is a Michigan mama who has been met with her fair share of challenges along her faith journey. Nonetheless, she puts her trust in the Lord, honoring and serving Him with her whole life.
Photos by Carly Kristin Photography. Headshot provided by guest writer.