A DICTIONARY FOR NAVIGATORS ON SPIRITUAL ROUGH WATERS 39: MORE WORDS FOR HARD TIMES

hard times contrastHard times are the number one concern to every individual, not to mention those with a family to feed. Hard times means a lack. Lack of sufficient resources. Lack of the usual stuff that we consider constituting physical, mental and emotional security and well being. Increasingly we hear of news of certain economic phenomena that gives us this sense of lack and the resultant loss. Loss of assurance. Loss of peace. Loss of comfort. Hard times means moving away from our comfort zone. Is there a way out? Today we read a word that points to a ray of light. A word of encouragement in hard times.

The word: LOOK. BEHOLD. Look. Jesus said, look.

If we can only see grim pictures, Jesus would not have urged His followers to look. The word “Look” is very pertinent today. Since Jesus Himself has urged us to look, we need to look. But what shall we look at which will counter hard times?

“Behold, a sower went out to sow.” (Matthew 13:3) This is what Jesus talks about when He meets the multitude. The people have come to see what good things He can give them. Free food. Free healing. Free deliverance. Even political and military positions and related material and social benefits. Sure. Jesus is fully capable of feeding thousands of hungry people without charging money. He does not even have to spend money to buy all those food. He just makes them appear out of thin air using fives loaves of ordinary bread and two normal fishes. Jesus is also fully capable of calling down heavenly armies to fight His just war and conquer the evil earthly kingdoms. He has the divine supernatural authority and power to as the Son of God to do what He wants if needed. 

But Jesus does not talk about His power and authority as the Son of God. He does demonstrate them in His healing and deliverance ministry and in His teaching of God’s words about the Kingdom of God. But in general He teaches something else. He talks about everyday living of the ordinary man who encounters hard times as shepherd, fisherman, farmer. He often addresses a common profession: farming. Sowing of seeds for crops. This is the generic profession for all of us today. He speaks of the chances of failure and success in getting a good crop. Some will fail. Some will succeed. Interestingly He does not talk about economic conditions like recessions. He only speaks of one criteria. The soil condition. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:8) Jesus also links economic sowing of seeds with the spiritual sowing of God’s words:But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”” (Matthew 13:23)

Do we need to fear hard times then? The Bible has a classic example of a man who sowed in hard times. Abraham’s son, Isaac reaped harvests of hundred-fold when all others suffered famine. he became very rich because of his sowing in hard times.

This is how the Bible describes his success: (Genesis 26:1-6; 12-14)

There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

So Isaac dwelt in Gerar.

12-14 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. 13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.

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