A MESSAGE OF HOPE for farmers after a few seasons of hardship!
Times of economic hardship and political turbulence, times of climate change and drought – these things all affect our lives in so many different ways; but the farming community most of all FEELS the drought…because we see the effect of high temperatures and no rains on our fields and crops, our animals and their grazing – and of course, in our pockets too. We even see the drought in the eyes of our children when we have to tell them there is no money for anything ‘extra’ this year…
Coping with the events of this past season has been like riding a roller coaster with emotions; up with hope, then down with worry – then into the depths of despair! Never before have our inputs and finances been at greater risk. Yes, farmers have been brought to their knees in the face of one of the worst droughts and cruellest heat waves in living memory!
A farmer friend was getting counselling for his depression. The psychiatrist told him that the secret to getting out of the dark depression is to stop looking down at the ground and rather LOOK UP...look people in their eyes; look at problems head on. Long ago the Lord told us in His Word in Psalm 121: LOOK UP TO THE HILLS…THAT’S WHERE YOUR HELP COMES FROM!
And yet – life goes on! And we must too! We need to survive both as businesses and as individuals. We all have fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, children and brothers and sisters as well as our employees to care for. We have to do our very best to survive and to make plans for the new season – WE CAN’T GIVE UP! And what’s more: We need to produce food for the population of our country and as farmers we are called to be caretakers of the earth.
There are so many things over which we have absolutely no control. We can do nothing about things like world politics or global economic hardships…so we should stop worrying about them because therein lies the root of helplessness and sometimes even overwhelming depression.
REMEMBER: The only times you fail – REALLY FAIL – is when you fall down and stay down!
Instead take a good look at yourself. Decide how you are going to respond to external conditions with your own reserve of internal strength and faith. Try not to sit still and do nothing. Try not to dwell on the negatives too long. Things are what they are! There is nothing we can do to change the heat wave or to stop the drought – we cannot make the rains fall or cause the grass to grow…spend time in prayer and meditation every day to find an inner calm and strength. Focus on what you do have – and on what you can do. Are you still healthy and strong? Can you still make plans?
Do things that require labour and not money
Keep busy and do things you don’t normally get around to doing. Tidy up the sheds and the farm yard. Check through all your implements; give them a coat of paint. Consider doing things around your home – like repairs and maintenance that your wife has been nagging you to do. Happiness in the household helps and will make her feel more inclined to support you through the hard times!
Think about small ways to make some money which will help the cash flow situation – chop and sell wood; work on your home vegetable garden – even if it is mainly to keep your hands busy and your mind occupied – and of course every few cents help!
The bottom line: We farmers should never be too proud to work hard physically or to tell partners about our circumstances. We must do whatever it takes to heal our businesses and feed our families. The energy we use in so doing will already make us feel focussed on our long term goals and will fill us with enough passion to fight for survival!
Ultimately ALL that matters is what YOU do about your circumstances and how negatively YOU allow your problems to affect you. Are your problems going to weigh you down, or will they drive you to action?
Galatians 6.v.9 says: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good; for at the proper time we will reap a harvest - if we do not give up.’
There is so much to be said about the power of the individual. One of my all-time favourite books is Bryce Courtenay’s ‘The Power of One’. He writes, ‘The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself… the mind is the athlete, the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swom harder, hit further, or box better.’
I believe that adopting a positive attitude and making a difference is my path to a more fulfilling, satisfying existence therefore I must be prepared to make small changes and I must live my life aware that I CAN make a difference!
When an old farmer was asked the question: Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming?
He replied: Always, always the answer is: Love. We do it for love. Farmers farm for the love of farming. We love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. We love to live in the presence of animals. We love to work outdoors. We love the weather. We love to live where we work and to work where we live. We like to work in the company of our partners and our children. We love working independently and we love not having a manager telling us what to do!
What about you? Do you farm because you love it?
Will you fight for what you have had and will you do everything possible to save your farm? Are you going to stay indoors with the curtains closed or will you be found in your fields chasing the goats and crows, protecting every last grain of corn until harvest time like Mr Khumalo and Mr Ndhlovu did near Ntabamhlope last summer?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise – think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
May you find hope in being steadfast; may the rains fall soft on your fields and may you live in peace!
An old African proverb says: However long the night, the dawn will break. Drought has come in the past but it has always been broken in the end – we need to make sure it doesn’t break us first!
Article submitted by Jenny Mathews, Pula Imvula contributor. For more information, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication: December 2016