Harvesting is a labour of stress

Rev. Raymond Maher

Yesterday, Labour Day, Ed called from Saskatchewan. He was ready to harvest, but his crops were not fully ripe. He said the weather would determine how quickly he would be in his fields. My old neighbour claims he always has great passion and eagerness the first day of combining, and then every day gets longer and longer until the harvest is finished for another year. Ed claims the weather at harvest time can be blamed for wasting time, lack of production or any procrastinating.

Ed said his retirement would end his harvesting. Talk of retirement led us into a long discussion about the importance of work in a person's life. We both agree that working at something you love to do makes life so much easier. Ed admitted he is mostly happy to be a farmer. Yet, no job, no matter how positive you are towards it, is without times of challenge and stress. With farmers, not every harvest is plentiful or profitable. I agree with Ed that no one should ever underestimate a farmer even in next year country.

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Sometimes job stress is forced on people by circumstances beyond their control. In the book of Exodus in the Bible, the Israelites in Egypt multiplied in number, and a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph and his people, feared their large population. He put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour in building cities for the Pharaoh. The Egyptians came to dread the Israelites, who endured their slavery while still multiplying in number. The Egyptians made their lives bitter with hard labour in brick and mortar and all kinds of hard work in the fields. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out for help. God heard their groaning and sent Moses to help them.

As slaves in Egypt, God’s people worked seven days a week without any time of rest from their labouring. In giving the Ten Commandments, Moses instructed the Israelites: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work … Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore, the Lord has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:13,15)

All workers still today need a day of rest to renew and rejuvenate. Those who dedicate their day of rest to the Lord honour God and His commandment.

Rest is vital for farmers when they are harvesting their crops. When farmers are the busiest, they need a break. Tiredness and burnout lead to accidents and result in less harvest done instead of more. As Christians, God understands our need to rest as we seek to live lives worthy of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and Lord.

Setting an example of doing good towards others can make us weary. We need to sow daily compassion, forgiveness, understanding and kindness and not give up because there does not seem to be a harvest in those closest to us or those we deal with regularly. At the proper time, God will produce a harvest from our efforts. (Galatians 6: 9)

 


 

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