“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:10-14 ESV
You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13 ESV
Most cultures around the world have festivals to celebrate the harvest. These happen at different times depending on the cycle of seasons and the crops that they grow. For example, in Ghana the Ewe people celebrate the yam festival in August or September, the end of their rainy season, when their yams start to appear. They celebrate with dancing and parades to show their joy in the harvest. In China and nearby Asian countries a harvest festival called the moon festival is celebrated in September or October at the time of a full moon. People eat special round cakes called moon cakes, and there are family gatherings, public celebrations, and even matchmaking between people who will get married in the future. In Indonesia there is a rice festival in the months of May and June. The people decorate their towns with colored flags, and there are special bull races to enjoy.
Gathering in the crops that will feed people in the months to come is a joyful time. The Lord spoke some beautiful words through the prophet Jeremiah about a different kind of harvest. Instead of gathering crops, God was going to gather his people back to himself and settle them in their own land. It would be a time of celebration and joy and dancing, and the people would be happy because the Lord would once again give them harvests of grain and wine and oil from their land. Their animals would be healthy and have new babies, and most of all, people would no longer be hungry for God’s love and blessing. The Lord would comfort them for all the sadness and hard times they had gone through, and they would be full of his goodness.
We all have sadness and hard times in our lives, but God is always with us to help us and comfort us. He gives us both times of joy and times of sorrow in this life, but he promises a new life with him in the future when he makes everything new and joyful. He sent our Savior, Jesus, to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and so that we could be his people. Because of Jesus, we have strength to live through the difficult things that sometimes happen in this life, and we can look forward to a joyful life in his heavenly kingdom, a celebration that will last forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the blessings you give us in this life, and for the hope of life forever with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.