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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 14th August 2012

Faith, Miracles and Modern-Day Fools

Sometimes, the miracle is faith itself

– that people would believe in spite of the suffering.

– that Christians cling to the truth when the world tells us the anchor won’t hold in the storm.

– that we stand firm, when the world says our faith is a lie, pointing to this rancorous world for their proof.

That’s what I’m thinking when my husband calls to me from his recliner in the living room, just before the 10 o’clock news begins.

He mutes the television, lets out his breath in one long sigh, and turns his head to find me, standing in the doorway:

“Jennifer, I just now realized that sometimes, there’s no point in watching the forecasts. I really don’t need to do this anymore.”

This, from a farmer who studies the radar like some people study the Olympic-medal rankings.

This, from a farmer who has prayed long and hard for rain.

But for our cornfields, it is too late for rain. It’s too late for the fields of thousands of other farmers, too. Our fields are not a loss, but the damage done is irreversible. Even a downpour couldn’t fix what’s happened.

My farmer-husband pushes the OFF button; the TV screen goes black. He leans back in his chair and puts his hands behind his head, weaving all his fingers into a hammock to hold his quiet deliberation.

To an outsider, this might look like the pose of defeat. It might look like one farmer’s three-world theology on an Iowa farm — “God’s Got It” — just fell apart. It might look like my guy’s mantra — when tested — is nothing more than a nice phrase, dissolving into the thin and very dry air.

But he says it again, here in a quiet living room: “God’s still got it.”

Good theology doesn’t evaporate — even if faith gets bruised — because truth is still truth. God has still very much got it. Our Gospel is not rooted in prosperity, but in a place of suffering: the Calvary cross. 

The Christian faith is not about getting one’s way. Even if our resolve is dented, our God is not. In drought, or storm, or cancer, or death, God still is.

Faith is not believing in a false promise of prosperity, but in the abiding presence of Christ.



We go around our house — and this blog — talking about God-incidences, those serenditious moments that some folks call “coincidence.” But not every God-incidence is wrapped with a pretty bow and shiny paper. Some God-incidences downright hurt. Seth Haines said it this way a week ago: “Sometimes, the providence is in the pain.” 

What if the most valuable God-incidences in life were the things that actually hurt? And what if the pain lasted a very long time? It happens like that for people. A lot.

Can a Christian still believe under those conditions?

Can we really carry our crosses? Or is it just a nice philosophy to repeat from time to time on Sunday mornings?

I have to ask myself that question every single day.

When we do live like we believe — and I know this is really only possible through the power of the Spirit — I think that this is the essence of a miracle. God gifts us with faith in the unseen. This is why a farmer can plant seeds, not knowing if they will bring a harvest. A farmer’s work is God’s way of reminding us that great miracles can grow from something impossibly small.


Yes, something CAN grow from the seed. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

And a Christian man can still believe — even praise — in spite of the worst.  God never said he’d grant His people fortune, but He did give us faith.

We said it weeks ago on this farm: If it rains, or if it doesn’t rain, God still reigns.

On a dry night in August, My husband reaches  for a book on the end-table: “Gospel-Centered Discipleship” by Jonathan K. Dodson.

The television screen stays black.

And not a single drop of rain falls.

***

The next day, I open my husband’s book. I don’t know which page he was reading, but my eyes land here:

“The leading of the Spirit sometimes includes suffering, but even that suffering is designed for our gospel holiness. Consider how Jesus relied on the Spirit during his wilderness temptations. During each temptation of food, faith, and fame, Jesus succeeded. How? He relied on the power of the Spirit to believe the promises of God.”

Faith itself is a miracle, isn’t it? That someone still believes when life is a worst-case scenario? Like this —

— when the Son of God decides to spend 40 days, as a human, with the Devil breathing down His neck. Yet he still trusts in the promises of the Father.

— when a woman prays the most furious, heart-bending prayers. Her prayers do not end with a cure, but with a casket. Yet she still believes.

— when he’s standing in the unemployment line, kneeling at the hospital bed, singing hymns in a concentration camp. All of them, miracles.

— when Christ endured the cross for the joythe joy! — set before him.

It all seems just a tad-bit crazy to a world that watches us. That we would put our faith and hope and trust in a bleeding, dying King? The cross makes no sense, some might say. But we say: Without the cross, life makes no sense. 

To some, the message of the cross is foolishness.

Call us fools. But we’re willing to lay down our fields — indeed, we’re willing to surrender our whole lives —  for the truth of it.

This is our faith. This is our miracle.


 
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  • Zech 4:10 says this, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin”. That’s the story of the seed, of faith, of trust.

    My heart breaks for you, for your neighbors and for our nation without rain.

    We tend to make all the circumstances God ordained. The rain. The pain. The cancer. And then we are amazed when he does, or does not,intervene. But God is more concerned with my heart than he is my silly expectations. That’s what needs the rain.

    • David, Thank you for sharing that Scripture here. It’s really speaking to me this morning. What a gift, your enduring friendship! We appreciate you.

      Yes, rain for the soul. I need me more of that, every.single.day.

      Grateful for you, David.

      – Jennifer

    • One of my favorite verses ever.

  • Hester

    Thanks Jennifer, for sharing your life (and faith) with us. Going through the desert ourselves, my two daughters and I….. Need a place to stay very urgently. Been put out by the earthly landlord who said we must be out by the weekend. God, our Heavenly Landlord, has got it!! Love, Hester

    • Hester, Oh … Hester.

      I wish my arms could stretch through this screen to find you, to hug you. Praying right now, that God provides a place for you to lay your head tonight. Please keep in touch? jdukeslee@gmail.com … I am so concerned for you, Hester.

  • So much “Amen” in this. Grace for each day … fresh manna.

    • Yes, fresh manna. That is the real Food. Thank you, Susan. When we were up in Minnesota recently, it looked very green. Mom and Dad said they’ve gotten lots of good rains in their area, just south of Walker, near Longville. You, too?

      • Leslynn

        Dear Jennifer,
        Going through my emails, Ann sent me this way. Never coincidences with our Jesus. I grew up near Longville.

        “The leading of the Spirit sometimes includes suffering, but even that suffering is designed for our gospel holiness.” Never heard of Jonathan K. Dobson. But, that is going to stick in my head/heart.

        Prayers for patience and endurance through the hard eucharistos.
        Job 33:26

        With love, ~Leslynn
        (How exciting, congratulations on sharing your wisdom, joys and Jesus with us and Tyndale.–praying for clear directions and efficient use of your time.)

        • As in Longville, Minnesota? Home of the turtle races? No way!

          So glad you’re here, Leslynn.

  • Not sure if my link actually counts as a God-incidence, but it sure was God working…

    Your post (and Ann’s) has made me realize how disconnected I am from my food chain. I counted myself proud to have made it to 3pm without turning on the a/c and we’ve farmers in need of rain to feed us…

    Turning my prayers to all farmers…

    • Leanne,

      I am delighted to have you in community, and any story that points to God at work is one that we’re thrilled to read! Thank you so much for sharing.

      Thank you for your prayers. Our crops aren’t nearly as bad as some here. Many farmers have huge chunks of fields completely dry, crispy and brown. Many cut back for silage. Comparatively, our fields look ok. The soybeans here are in better shape.

  • Your husband’s words ring in my ears every. single. day.

    Life makes no sense without the cross–it’s what makes the bitter sweet. Love you, friend.

    • Love you, too, Sandra. How are things looking up your way? Did you get your rains early enough?

  • Oh Jennifer…this is full of God’s glory…glory shining through hearts choosing to trust…choosing to hold on to the anchor as the winds blow…His light shining as you hold on to faith…abiding in His presence. Amen,without the cross life makes no sense…I have been pondering the cross these days too…blessings and prayers for God to meet you and hold you as you journey…and may you too have the joy set before you…((hugs)) to you my friend.

    • God equips us to trust, I just know it. There’s no way I could otherwise. My old nature loves to creep up during times like these, but the believer has the choice to fight back with truth. Repeating truth and Scripture, and writing it down on a blog, and telling one another that God really does “have it.” And that He is enduringly good.

      Faith is a gift. And as a long-time doubter, faith in a very real Savior has been nothing short of miraculous.

      Love to you, Ro. I so appreciate our growing friendship over these cyber-lines.

  • “Call us fools.” Yes, yes. I’m singin’ this now:

    “God’s Own Fool”
    by Michael Card
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvejyvnEidY

    Thanking God for you and your man.

    • Monica! Beautiful, beautiful song. I had not heard this one before. Tears in my eyes as I listened just now.

      These lyrics:

      So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son
      For a madman who died for a dream
      And you’ll have the faith His first followers had
      And you’ll feel the weight of the beam
      So surrender the hunger to say you must know
      Have the courage to say I believe
      For the power of paradox opens your eyes
      And blinds those who say they can see

  • Thank you for touching my heart with a message that I so needed to hear. Thoughts I well understand, but spoken so touchingly. All I have today is faith and it is enough. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Thank you, Marianne, for being here with your heart and your words today. Praying that you and I and all the sinners-made-saints can hold fast to our faith when the strong winds blow! Thank you, dear.

  • Beautifully put, Jennifer. You both give testimony to the gift of faithfulness which God has been growing in you. May you find comfort in the midst of this loss – praying for all who farm in the middle of this dreadful drought, for rain, for recovery, for hope in the midst of what is – for many – a bitter taste of defeat. Thankfully, God knows how to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat!

    • Yes, and amen, Diana. Thank you for your prayers. xo

  • “Good theology doesn’t evaporate even if faith gets bruised.” Trust is continuing forward even in the darkness. Thank you for this post, a blessing for me today.

    • Good morning, Christina … I’m so glad you’re here. Yes, trust moves forward, even in the dark, shining up the blackest corners. Thank you, Christina.

  • “God gifts us with faith in the unseen.” Yes. I haven’t participated in this community much. I’m one of those who is praying through a God-incidence which is likely to last a very long time. Bearing witness that there is indeed providence in the pain.

    • Praying with you, Nancy. Much, much love to you as you bear witness.

  • Your words–a beautiful testimony to the love of God through the Cross. Jennifer I know God’s love is unchanging, unwavering, ever constant. You build my faith by watching your faith in the pain of this period of drought. There is no drought in your love nor in your faith. Bless you during these days, your family and all farmers. May you continue to be undergirded by His love and may He give you His peace. You serve Him in a beautiful way.

  • Faith is such a miracle every day! I know the cross and faith is foolishness to unbelievers, but I truly cannot fathom how they face such life challenges as this post mentioned without Christ. I would crumble.

  • AMEN on the rain/reign, Jennifer! As for the faith issue: we’re surrounded by evidence, and people still don’t see Him. So sad.
    Hugs to you from VA 🙂

  • You could preach this from the pulpit and I’d be shouting amen from the pews!

    • Those were my thoughts too, Michelle. What awesomeness for God, is in this testimony Jennifer.

  • “God’s still got it.”

    Yes, He does!

    What a beautiful testimony of the miracle of Faith and Hope!

    That three-word-theology rings load and clear…not just on an Iowa farm, but throughout the world and across the ages!

    Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing!

  • Jillie

    Dear Jennifer…Beautiful post today. We here in our little family are having to believe “God’s Got It” in a big way right now. We are in sad and uncertain circumstances.Yet we MUST believe and trust. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. What would we do without our Hope?

  • He reigns. Over caskets, droughts, and everything else this earthly life brings our way.

    Amen.

    And Hester? We’re praying for you and your girls, too.

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  • Maybe one of my favorite posts from you ever. Thank you =)

  • JDL,

    “Our Gospel is not rooted in prosperity, but in a place of suffering: the Calvary cross.”

    If the modern Christ-follower could really understand this… if I could really understand this… I think our Christ-following would look and sound much much different.

    I really like this piece.

  • whispering quiet “amen” today, reading these beautiful, rich words… thank you for this stunning grace. Praying for rain–but remembering whatever happens, He reigns…. your faith encourages me. Thank you for that.

  • As a farmer’s wife, I remember the drought of 1980 with no rain and 47 consecutive days above 100 degrees. I looked back in my journal on July 12, 1980. This is what I wrote, “There has been no rain since May. It has been over 100 degrees since June. Lord, why? But, I trust in you to send the former and the latter rain. You are our Hope , our Redeemer. ‘Ask ye, of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds and give them showers of rain, to everyone grass in the field.’ Zech. 10:1
    On July 14, 1980, I wrote this. “Jesus is the bright and morning star. Rev. 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. That picture is so precious to me. Because it is so dry and hot, the cool, freshness of a crystal, clear river sounds so wonderful. We went swimming in the rice well-pool at Ritas. It was so cold, but a delicious contrast to the 108 degree temp. It is just like the cool, refreshing influence of Jesus in my life. Things can seem so unbearable, and Jesus is my retreat.”
    God taught us so much that year, Jennifer. Thank you for reminding me.

    • Laurie Whin

      Thank you, Cindy, for your beautiful thoughts from the year 1980. I pray for the farmers who are devastated with this drought. And I pray for that this nation will be awakened to know our Lord who brings the early and late rains.

    • Oh Cindy… What a gift you’ve given me here. Thank you, friend. You are a kindred soul. Love you.

  • Oh my, does this resonate. I’m experiencing a sort of drought that has nothing to do with the wet that falls from heaven but very aware of His reign. Beautiful words Jennifer.

  • Oh… Just oh. There are not words, but my spirit resonates deep and my head nods yes, yes indeed.

  • mv

    Hi, I’m originally from NYC and living in Florida so it doesn’t matter that I know nothing about farming. Watching the news it breaks my heart to see the crops drying out. Your blog has so encouraged me – as I’m in a drought summer having lost my job in early June. And things are very tight financially (week to week at this point). YES OUR GOD REIGNS through all this! As King David wrote … “I was Young and now I’m old, Yet I have never seen the Righteous forsaken nor his children begging for bread!” Psalm 37:5

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  • This has been a tough week for me. This encouraged me. Thanks

  • Judy

    Hello Jennifer – I’ve come via Ann Voskamp’s blog.

    Reminding you so that you will be encouraged –

    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases… “the Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him” (from Lamentations).

    Together you and your husband are affirming this in a beautiful way in the here and now. As I often say to my teens, faith is a daily (sometimes hourly) choice to believe in the love of God (as shown us in the cross) in the midst of the inexplicable.

    Praying for God’s grace – in the increase of your faith – and in the meeting of all your needs.

  • First, I am so sorry about the corn. You guys are always in my prayers.

    Second, on this: “But not every God-incidence is wrapped with a pretty bow and shiny paper. Some God-incidences downright hurt”–I’ve shared some of this from my life with Dena. She’s helped me to see it that way.

  • Oh, your statement about a false promise of prosperity – so true. I need a daily reminder, as well. Praying for rain for you, still.

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  • elizabeth

    A FB link with your corn “God still reigns” photo brought me here…I am going through a personal “drought” – we just ‘lost’ a fourth baby to miscarriage and my husband is no longer willing to try again – I am struggling with trying to understand so many things. But that image and phrase is a powerful reminder. Thank you for sharing, it was a bit of rain in my drought.

    • Elizabeth,

      Praying for you right now. My heart breaks over your losses. No words here. But if I could, I’d stretch these arms through the screen to hug you tight.

      – Jennifer

  • Jennifer, I’m married to a farm-raised man born during the depression. Though he moved on to another career, he understands and we empathize with the farmers’ plight right now. We applaud your faith and your husband’s during such stressful times. We are praying for rain!

  • Yes Jennifer. This is the gospel “writ large” for others to see so that they too can believe. When, in the suffering, faith holds on, it speaks volumes to a skeptical world.
    You bless me sweet friend – a million times over.

  • God is still on His throne, working all things together for good. Thanks for the inspiring post and for hosting the linkup, & God bless,
    Laurie

  • Wendy D

    Thank you! I really needed those words of encouragement! Rain or no rain, God still reins! I love that! God Bless you and your family!

  • Awesome post… His peace and joy reigns inside of us. The wisdom of this season will multiply His grace in future ones to come. I’m praying for you and your family.

  • Heidi

    For weeks Nicole Nordeman’s song “Gratitude” has been going through my mind. Your words fit so perfectly with it, I thought I’d share the first verse here:

    “Send some rain, would You send some rain?
    ‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
    And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
    Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
    Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
    Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
    But maybe not, not today
    Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
    And if that’s the case …

    We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude
    For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
    How to bless the very sun that warms our face
    If You never send us rain”

    To listen to (& read lyrics for) the whole song on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PEzM-4VXdg

    • Heidi,

      I want you to know how blessed I was by this song. Thank you so much for sharing.

      With gratitude,
      Jennifer

  • Michael Flowers

    Meister Eckhart comments on loving God intrinsically or reciprocally, for who He is rather than what what He can give (apart from what He’s already lavishly given and shall complete at his return).

    I thought of this quote as I read your article.

    “Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow and to love him as they love their cow–they love their cow for the milk and cheese and profit it makes them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God when they love him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have on your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost truth.”

  • Sue

    Thank you so much for sharing! I appreciate this much I plan to share it with my small group! I’ve been thinking a lot about Faith this week! It means wso much!

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  • Rachelle

    From this farm wife in Nebraska….I say thank you! I love it…”Rain or no rain, God still Reigns.”

    • Rachelle … How are your crops looking? Praying for you, too.

  • Reading your post gave me “God bumps” as I have been thinking about this VERY Thing…it is God’s gift and miracle to allow people to trust and believe in His goodness when the rest of the world says otherwise…THANK YOU, dear Jennifer…hugs and love to you 🙂 Praying for you and your family.

  • Oh my gosh! This is the story of my life. I would so love the opportunity to share this with you face-to-face. I pray that God can make this happen! 🙂

  • Annette

    Jennifer, Giving thanks for your beautiful, Spirit filled heart for Him and Voice of Truth! Your words quench “a dry & weary land” for me and for others! Jesus, bring the “Reign”!

  • Great post about our Great God! Thank you for sharing!

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  • This past week, our family ranch burned in a wildfire. We are brand-spanking-new to ranching (3 years) and even had to evacuate our cattle by setting them free into the open rangeland. We sold everything to buy the ranch, and don’t even live there yet due to job here in our hometown still. My parents live there.

    Amazingly, God gave us peace before we even knew what the outcome would be, which turned out better than we imagined considering the fire surrounded our ranch on all sides, even trapping the fire crew and my brother who were safely sheltered in our pasture (which didn’t burn because it had been eaten down by the cows … all the uneaten grass in other paddocks did burn).

    Your post resonated with me because the aftermath of ranchers dealing with burned out rangeland is similar to drought-stricken farmers and ranchers.

    I’m sorry your farm suffers from the drought.

    • Christie … Praying for you right now. I cannot imagine this. I have no good words, but I do have prayer. And if I could, I’d stretch these two arms through the screen to find you. Thank you for sharing. I will be praying for you today, Christie.

      ~ Jennifer

      • Thank you! Your story reminds me to pray for farmers and ranchers all the more, and those in other parts of the country. It is such a God-dependent lifestyle.

        My husband and I were talking about the drought and how agonizing it would be to have a slow, day-after-day, month-after-month need for water. Our wildfire didn’t keep us in suspense for very long. We are thankful that in our area that no homes were lost.

        The forest and grass and animals are cared for the by the Lord, and He can restore beauty better than we can.

        I loved how you worded it … “the miracle is faith itself.” God is powerful indeed.

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  • We just drove through Iowa, my husband and I. Dry, brown, broken stalks of corn all along the highway. He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  • leslieb

    My brother n wife just evacuated their cabin to the raging wildfires in Idaho.This was their dream.We also are farmers in Id. My heart grieves for this loss to you all.Please know…..we pray for you.We’ve farmed for 34 years. Its an amazing step of faith, every year.God IS good,God is good Always and HE has you in His mighty hand.The prayers of a righteous man availeth much….

  • donna dunaway

    I am broken…not in a bad way. When I read, or see Glory Given to God our Father…it breaks me. This is a beautiful reflection of faith bringing HIM glory, trust and honor. God Bless you, and the God given gift you have for placing so much truth in such words of beauty.

@BethMooreLPM In the body of Christ, you are totally the funny bone. Thanks for making us laugh with your stories, Beth.