Separating The Chaff

  • Oct. 10, 2008
  • #6900

Like the harvest of wheat, we must endure some tribulation for a harvest of righteousness.

My friend, Bev Singleton, grew up on a wheat farm in North Dakota - doesn't that sound beautiful?  Fields of wheat for as far as you can see stretching into a blue horizon?  Bev tells me that every summer the big combines would come to cut and thresh the wheat - it was all a child could ever dream of, to see those huge tractors come lumbering across the fields... to run and bring pitchers of lemonade and snacks for the harvesters.  I always love it when Bev talks about those days.

Bev also describes how the word "tribulation" at word in the Bible has its roots in a wheat field.  Tribulation means affliction or pressure and it's derived from the old days when day laborers would separate the wheat from the chaff with great flails.  They would pour out the garnered wheat on the floor and then they would stand around and beat it, they would thrash it, flail it and in this way, the chaff would be separated from the grain which then they would gather. 

The actual name of that flail (that big rod with splintered ends that they would use), the name of it was a tribulum.  That's it.  That's the real word.  It's where we get the word tribulation - as if you are being struck or flailed or thrashed or beaten.  And friend you felt that, haven't you?!  You know the pain that goes with that kind of tribulation in your life.  It hurts.  The words themselves hurt... this isn't a little smack-on-the-hand; this trial sometimes you are going through it a thrashing. 

But, oh, the wonderful fruit from it all, the harvest of sweet grain.  And what is that grain?  Second Corinthians 9:10 calls it a harvest of righteousness.  James chapter 3, verse 10 says the same thing, a harvest of righteousness.  And again in Hebrews 12:11, we are told that "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."  Isn't that interesting?  Don't you find that fascinating?  Your tribulations have a purpose, and that purpose is the righteousness of Christ in you.

When we are struck by a trial, when we feel thrashed and our emotions are flailed, we're getting rid of a lot of chaff and chaff as we're told in Psalm 1 is likened to wickedness, resentment, stubbornness, anger, bitterness, complaining, grumbling.  But a tribulation results in a harvest of righteousness - and that means, that clean, clear, pure joy of living the right way that honors God - peace, self control and patience. 

Now I know, I know.  Perhaps you're looking out over the horizon of your life and all you see is one big combine after another, each in a row, coming at you, cutting and thrashing and flailing everything in front of it.  Would you please remember that God is the harvester?  He's the one at the wheel; he holds the tribulum in His hand.  Let the chaff - the fear, the doubts, the complaining, the resentment and bitterness - be brushed away with the wind.  Allow God to finish His harvest and you'll discover that clean, pure joy of the righteousness of Christ, the good grain that will last forever.

 ©  Joni and Friends

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