Thursday, September 14, 2023

Reaping the Harvest (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6)

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (Eccl. 11:1).

In ancient times, the best season for harvest along the Nile was when the water was low. When it was high, the farmers would throw seed into the water where it would embed into the fertile soil along the shoreline. When the water receded, the seed would bear fruit in the rich soil, producing a luxuriant harvest.

The Preacher drew from this analogy in Ecclesiastes 11:1 to encourage us to persevere in our duties, for one day, in God’s own time, we will reap a glorious harvest. It might not happen as soon as we would like, but it will happen—according to the seasons God has sovereignly appointed.

Charles Bridges writes of a missionary to India who received much encouragement from this passage as he labored in a dark and hostile land. Like ministers and missionaries in all ages, he drew strength from the promises of God—the harvest will come. It might not happen today or even tomorrow, but it will happen one day. Someone, whom you might never have imagined, could one day benefit from a word you said or a prayer you lifted up to God. It might happen after you have departed from this life, but the bread you cast upon the waters will be found.

Christian parents can be encouraged by this passage. They toil through the years, training their children the best they can, wondering if they will bear any fruit. Then one day God sows grace in their hearts, a harvest of a parent’s faithful teaching and love. The bread of love and discipline that parents sow into the lives of their children will bring forth fruit, sometimes after “many days.”

“The many days between seedtime and harvest are days of special anxiety—hoping seeming impossibilities—believing paradoxes,” Bridges writes. “But the promise is God’s own living truth; and it will be found not the less sure for the delay. And when waiting days have done their work, humbling us in entire dependence upon God, and ripening us for the harvest of blessing in due season—in God’s good time.… ‘We shall reap, if we faint not. The vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry’ (Gal. 6:9. Hab. 2:3).”

Are you frustrated because you have been waiting for a particular “harvest” and it has not yet arrived? A friend or family member’s conversion? A child’s obedience? Success in a particular vocation? Whatever the case, confess your frustration to God today. Give it over to Him and endeavor to wait patiently for the harvest.