Five Fundamentals For Your Devotional Life

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


How Long?

The human desire for purpose is as natural as our need for food. As Nietzsche wrote, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” But the opposite is also true. He, who has no purpose, has no how or why to live. When King David couldn’t discern any purpose behind his suffering, he cried out, “How Long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1). How long will it be until we see God’s purposes come to fruition in what we do, whom we love, where we live, and who we are?

The answer to ‘how long?’ might be very long. The biblical imagery for life and growth is organic, seasonal, and perennial. “Be patient, therefore,” wrote James, “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth … until it receives the early and the late rains” (James 5:7). Be patient, when there is no rain at all—no hope of purpose or fulfillment in life—because in times of drought a vine’s roots grow stronger as it digs for moisture. In the future, the wine produced by these grapes tastes better, not worse, for having experienced drought. And the same is true for the dryness we experience when our lives seem to lack direction or meaning. The absence of purpose can produce an abundance of character because who we are isn’t dependent on what we do.

Jesus said, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5 NIV). This harvest might come when the conditions seem just right, when the vines are ready to be picked. Alternately, the harvest might be delayed until winter—when our hopes and dreams are frozen on the vine—because God has a special vintage in mind. This will probably seem like too little or too late, but as every spiritual sommelier knows, God is, in fact, making ice-wine: an exquisite drink of terrific sweetness, which is produced through terrible stress. So long as the fruit remains on the vine, the temporary pain contributes to the winemaker’s true purpose: the world’s most remarkable wine.


It’s hard to persevere when you feel like you lack a purpose. So indulge yourself with a wholesome pleasure by cooking your favorite meal and invite God to dine with you.