In our neck of the woods, the farm weather has been terrible since, I don’t know, 1999. If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes they say. Farmers have been waiting longer than that and the tables have not turned. Sure, the weather changed in 5 minutes just like it always does. Only it just changes to one form even more unfavorable than the previous.
A tale of the last few years: 2018 was a story of drought and months without rain and crops that showed it when harvested. “We’ve been through this before” was a phrase heard on more than a few occasions. 2019 was a story about “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” The harvest that would not let up. “#harvest19” on social media with pictures of stuck in the mud, broken equipment, and tired and frustrated growers. However, it was also about resilient farmers who were pushed to the limits of their sanity. Then, the 2020 the global pandemic started, and supply issues and cost increases began to disrupt life. 2021 was a terrible drought year – again.
Let’s go back to 2018. The local small-town café around mid-summer. The after-church crowd of families having breakfast for lunch. A priest is there at a table with one family. A farmer on his way out stops by the table and requests of the priest, “Pray for rain, Father.” That priest’s response was so simple, yet so profound. It changed the way I looked at 2018 and helped me deal with the loss of our infant daughter in early October of that year. He said:
“I will pray for rain. But I will also pray for God’s will to be done.”
He went on to very casually explain how we often ask, “Why God?” when we are upon hard times. The reality is that tough situations can bring people together. Often, good can come out of a rough patch. You know that to be true. You’ve seen it happen. You’ve experienced it on your own or have seen it within your family or friends.
For instance, I know a farmer who talks about how 1993 was the worst year on his farm due to factors outside of his control – mainly weather. Just when he thought all was lost, 1994 was one of his best years ever. He said the same about how bad it was in 1976. Then 1977 was great. He has an excellent attitude about 2022.
I know a guy who was let go from his job as an ag retail center grunt. It was rough on him, but it wound up being the push that he needed, and he applied for and got his dream job as a graphic designer. This guy loves his job now. He’s designing websites for a new and exciting company and his work reaches thousands of people.
Of course, there are other situations where it may be harder, or seemingly impossible, to see how any good can come from them. There are, of course, families currently enduring hardships of a significantly higher magnitude than the two examples I’ve described above.
When times are tough, and they most certainly are right now, focus on three simple things and encourage others to do the same.
1) Pray. Pray and do not be shy or feel guilty about praying for yourself. There are many verses in the bible that address and encourage praying for yourself.
2) Talk. Share your thoughts and feelings. It is good to talk it out. Do not bottle up your feelings. Do not be too proud. Do not think of it as showing weakness. If you are concerned that your friends will think less of you for opening up, then you need new friends. Your true friends will listen and help you through. Your true friends will follow up with genuine concern about how you are doing.
3) Listen. The other side of the coin for #2 above. Maybe you are the friend that someone needs to confide in. Listen and be genuine in your concern by respecting privacy. Do not just respond by trying to relate or feel the need to solve all the problems if it is not necessary. It may be as simple as just listening and that may be all that you need to do. Follow up and do not get too busy to keep in touch. If you find yourself saying, “I’ve been meaning to….” It is already too late.
The reality is that things like motivational online articles with a few bullet points may not be the answer to all your problems. Furthermore, it may seem frustrating (in the near term) to just trust that God has a plan and it will all work out. Whatever the case, try HOPE.
Reach out. Look up. There is nothing we cannot overcome.