Each Day's Trouble

In the discourse section in Matthew 6, after the well-known Beatitudes, Jesus tells us not to worry about the things of this life:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

We experienced the wisdom of this truth with fresh understanding on a recent Saturday morning.

In early August, we entered into what we at the farm fondly refer to as “the vegetable vortex.” This is when the maturity dates of most of our vegetable crops collide — snap beans, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.

This is a time of multiple harvests, multiple locations, multiple logistic options, and multiple ways for unplanned challenges and “opportunities” to crop up.

Naturally, we had been working diligently for weeks before these harvests managing the requisite number of volunteers to harvest hundreds of thousands of pounds of whatever is just coming into its harvest schedule.

Given the time sensitivity of most of these crops, getting the right number of people on the right date harvesting the right crop with the right logistical support takes planning, a little Kentucky windage and, of course, the Lord’s blessing.

We went to sleep the night before a big Saturday harvest event a bit anxious, because we had not been able to reach several groups to confirm their planned arrival time and the number of volunteers expected.

As we had our early morning coffee and read our daily devotional, the text messages on the phone began to chirp.

Bad News

Two groups weren’t going to make it at all. Down 40 volunteers, yikes! Later, as we welcomed the arriving volunteers, it became apparent that we were going to have less than half the number we had been told to expect when folks scheduled their volunteer groups with us earlier in the season.

We have learned to roll with such margins of error. Sometimes, we are told to expect a group of 100 and only 20 actually come, and other times we plan for the 25 who signed up, only to be swarmed with 100 or more volunteers because friends brought friends, or the volunteer activity was posted broadly with no RSVP.

This is normal for an all-volunteer operation like ours. However, on this morning, we faced a 4-acre sweet corn field to harvest with about 50 people. Normally, these are long odds.

Suddenly, two vans pulled up. A brother in Christ, whom we had met only a few weeks ago, reintroduced himself and asked if there was anything to do on the farm today.

He had been in prayer that morning and felt a prompting from the Spirit to drive the hour to the farm and see if we needed any help.

Out of the vans came a dozen brothers from Latin America, all of whom had many years of corn picking experience.

With these veteran pickers setting the pace, our small — but mighty — group harvested more than 52,000 pounds of sweet corn in less than three hours.

As we surveyed the field when we finished, someone remarked, “Did you ever think we would finish this field today?”

It was hard to conceal our delight, and we admitted that, in truth, we weren’t sure.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The passage in Matthew is completed with what amounts to a promise — each day does have enough trouble of its own.

In the context of an all-volunteer operation, which often feels like a “feast or famine” roller coaster ride, we don’t have to worry but only seek God and his righteousness, and rest in his provision.

This is our 19th growing season on the farm, and we have never yet lacked for the volunteers we need to complete the harvest.

Most years, we have to turn people away as the season comes to a close because God has provided for us well beyond what we even need or imagine.


this post was originally published September 5, 2017 on Lancaster Farming.