In the last 3 months I have been sick more than I’ve been well. I don’t like being sick. I don’t suppose anyone does. But in these months, I have felt the weight of these trials heavier than before. The fear of doubt and the bitterness of comparison have haunted my thoughts at times and I have found it difficult to find joy. Where is this joy that I am promised for enduring? Count it all joy, says James, but I’m left counting my problems instead.

And then, today I came upon this piece of writing from a brilliant man named A.W. Tozer. Trials will come, James was also clear about that. (James 1:2) Our response to trials and the perspective we journey through them with becomes the determining factors of the outcome. Will they bring Joy or death? Will they defeat me or will I find my victory in Jesus?

I hope as you read this a new sense of God’s faithful and loving character strengthens you through whatever trial you are in”Here are two kinds of ground: fallow ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow.

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plow“Here are two kinds of ground: fallow ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow.

The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the blue jay. Had it intelligence, it might take a lot of satisfaction in its reputation: it has stability; nature has adopted it; it can be counted upon to remain always the same, while the fields around it change from brown to green and back to brown again. Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment.

But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility; never does it feel the motions of mounting life, nor see the wonders of bursting seed, nor the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know, because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.

In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken.

But its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. All over the field, the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consumate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.

god giftsTwo Kinds of Lives

For example of the fallow life, we need not go far. They are all too plentiful among us. The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in tolerant superiority at revivals, fastings, self- searching, and all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him. He is steady, “faithful,” always in his accustomed place (like the old field), conservative, and something of a landmark in the little church. But he is fruitless.

The curse of such a life is that it is fixed, both in size and in content. “To be” has taken the place of “to become.” The worst that can be said of such a man is that he is what he will be. He has fenced himself in, and by the same act he has fenced out God and the miracle.

Broken To Bring Forth Fruit

The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of repentance, thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances and the distress of fruitless living have combined thoroughly to humble the heart. Such a life has put away defense, and has forsaken the safety of death for the peril of life.

Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And, as always, fruit follows the plow. Life and growth begin as God “rains down righteousness.””

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To avoid trials and to fence yourself within your small and safe view of God and your faith is to shut yourself out of the greater blessing that trials may bring. May you see a new purpose in your pain. There is great joy in opening up your life to the plowing work of God. It may be messy and painful but it will yield an eternal harvest in and through your life in the right season.

I want to trust God’s purpose in the pain. I will allow His goodness to shine through my mess and have faith that harvest is on the way.

-Josh