It was my third morning that week making coffee. Usually my sweet husband wakes up at 5:45 with me every morning and fries me a couple of eggs and makes sure the coffee is ready. But due to his knee surgery a few weeks ago, could hardly get out of bed, let alone make me coffee.
Pouring it into my tall, silver mug that accompanies me every morning to school, I felt weary. It is no fault of my poor husband’s, but pain limits one’s emotional capacity and for those first ten days of recovery, I felt like I didn’t have a husband. I felt the burden of our little family, our happiness, and our health entirely on my own shoulders.
Teaching fourth grade sometimes seems like a fruitless endeavor. I imagine that parenting feels like that, only more so. Day in and day out, we do math and spelling, literature and grammar, history and science. We recite poems, read the Bible, pray, and talk together. Almost every day, I remind them that reading is fun. Or that they ought to love their neighbor as themselves, and that is not gross and no, it does not mean love in the way that a man and a woman love each other. I help one of my students for the tenth time on their grammar and wonder when the concept of an adverb and a helping verb will finally sink in. They can’t stop talking, and I keep praying for patience. And sometimes I wonder: “will they ever get it?” Will my words someday plant a little seed in their heart and even grow and blossom?
The steam rose in my coffee cup and I prepared to head out the door to a new day in the classroom. Tired, lonely, even a bit discouraged.
But I would not leave without hope.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
These words came to mind and brought with them an entirely new morning. This doesn’t say that we might someday reap a harvest. It doesn’t say that most of the seeds we plant will be uprooted by rodents and rot and die. It promises that in due season, we will reap. Cultivation takes a long time. Harvests do not grow overnight. But someday, as we do our little well and as we persist in doing good, a field is planted and the crops watered and nourished and their fruit will be sweet and life-giving.
This gives those everyday moments deeper meaning and new hope.
All areas of my life ask me to not give up. To do good and not tire. My marriage will someday reap fruit when we wake up and make coffee for the other without complaining. When we only eat one egg and leave the other one in the carton so that the sleeping spouse can have two eggs for breakfast later, the ground is being softened. My teaching will someday reap fruit, even if I never see it, because God’s Word will not go unheard. As I show patience and love over and over again to my precious students, little sprouts will soon appear. Harvests are being prepared. As I try to make friends and find a place and community in this big city, roots are growing deeper. If it means only giving love and not receiving it, I must not give up. Seeds are being planted.
But it is not just that my little good can plant harvests in other fields. These daily acts of sacrifice and goodness, of routine and ritual, are planting seeds in my own heart. As the fields are tilled by trials and tears, the crops slowly flourish. As the leaves are pruned and the roots nourished by the body and blood of Christ, the buds begin to grow.
This is a promise. As we press on in doing goodness for all the days of our life, we will reap a harvest.
So we do not give up.