Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
“Water, water everywhere...” Those words of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge could have been written for the summer and autumn that farmers and livestock alike have waded through.
Over 60% of August’s rainfall flooded down in one nine-hour period. I know farmers who in early September had only made one cut of silage made and held little hope of another anytime soon. Dairy cows inside in July. Crops lost. A slurry spreading deadline of October 15th made impossible for some to meet due to saturated ground.
What is to be the farmer’s response when things, like the weather, don’t go our way? Anger, despair, or a stoical shrug of the shoulders, hoping that next year might be better?
When Jesus is with us, we can do much better than that. Come with me to an even wetter scene: the Sea of Galilee. Jesus and His disciples were out on a boat. Unexpectedly and out of the blue, the weather changed and the disciples’ mood changed with it.
“Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ ” (Matt 8:24-25). Matthew uses a word that normally means ‘earthquake’! It was as if an earthquake had hit this fishing boat. The boat shook and the men shook with it.
Do you know what it is like to feel like those disciples – that life is suddenly and hopelessly out of control and there is nothing you can do?
In stark contrast, Jesus is the picture of calm – He’s sleeping! King Jesus then stills the storm in the sea and the storm in their hearts Matthew tells us: “He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (v26).
Perhaps you need some convincing that Jesus genuinely cares. Perhaps, because life seems so cruel, you have come to question whether there even is a God?
But I want you to understand that the cross proves God’s love for you in a way that you just can’t miss or ignore. For on the cross, Jesus Himself suffered darker, deeper depths of pain than we will ever plumb, as He took the punishment for His people’s sins and bore His loving Father’s wrath. Jesus tasted His Father’s rejection and pain on a cosmic scale.
Why did Jesus suffer so? Quite simply, Jesus paid for His people’s sins so that, one day, Jesus could finish all sin and suffering, without finishing us.
After He died, Jesus rose again. Why? To bring us the life we long for. In heaven, God will undo every horrible thing that has happened to His followers. Better than that, Ulster-born writer C S Lewis explains: “Heaven...will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”
Like those panic-stricken disciples, we too must admit to Jesus that we need Him. As a farming man, I know we struggle to admit that we need help. But Jesus “richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ ” (Romans 10:12-13). When we come to Jesus, humbly trusting Him as our King, we can ask Him to deliver us from our sin and from whatever else is weighing us down, and He will.
Reverend Kenny Hanna is minister of Second Dromara Presbyterian Church and grew up on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Mountains of Mourne.
If you would like to talk to someone about this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.