Sunday, January 19, 2014

If I Had Been Alone


A man told us his story -- well, a very small part of it, anyway --
and it touched my heart.
He is a farmer.
And he's seen a lot of trouble.
Financing through bankers, and at the mercy of the weather and the markets.
This crash and that crop,
and lenders who suddenly demanded payment.
I looked at his boots while he spoke.
He'd been hurting, but there were trees to trim.

He started in the past, telling about the bankers,
and the stress, and the trouble.
And he said, "I would have given up, if I had been alone."
But he wasn't alone in his trial.
Someone else would have suffered worse if he had given up.
And he hung in there for their sake.
He kept planting and kept working,
and filled out more paperwork than anyone should have to fill out,
and he looked down and saw the name of a lender
whose card had been sitting on a desk for five years longer
than the man had been gone from the company.

But he called the company, and the president asked to meet him.
And he had been hurting when he went,
but they called in some other men,
and they laid hands on him and prayed for him,
and then they lent him a hand, too.
And a big crop came in -- with prices he'd never seen in his life.
And he offered a deal to some sharks
and against all odds, they took it,
and he was free.
And he thought he had lost the farm, but it was not lost.

And all I could think about while he spoke was how having a fellow sufferer,
and that fellowship of suffering
had given him endurance to keep working.
To plow in hope, when it was hopeless.
To trim the trees that hadn't put out enough fruit.
Or whose fruit had been badmouthed by celebrities,
and no one would buy it and eat it.
To work another day and pray another prayer,
and reap a harvest of mercy.
And how two are better than one,
because one loses heart.

Sometimes, faith plods on,
but it gains the strength to do it through fellowship.
And maybe you are the strong one, who wanted to give up,
but you had someone at home who was sick in bed,
and you couldn't let them bear the cost of your quitting.
Or maybe you're the weak one, who couldn't do the work,
but your very presence lent strength and purpose of heart
to the younger man who could --
if only he had a reason.
Let's be each other's reason to work another day,
even if we can't be the one sweating in the field.

They held each other up.
The one stuck behind in pain
and the one working through the pain
both benefited because of the love there was between them.
And that is looking out for the interests of another more than oneself.
You see, he said, "He was more heavily invested than I was."
And he couldn't let him bear it all himself.

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