Memory sometimes plays tricks on us. Years after some difficult incident, which at the time seemed unbearable, we scarcely recall how trying things were. That’s why people can so easily refer back to the ‘good old days’. But more often than not, they weren’t all that good but our memory casts a veil over the unpleasant aspects of that time.
The Letter to the Hebrews was written after the original ‘good old days’ of Christianity. Many of the people to whom this letter was addressed had endured terrible persecutions but had survived. Now, for some reason, they had grown discouraged and lazy in the practice of their faith. They needed to recall former times when they had been more heroic, not with a sense of nostalgia, but with a realisation that old zeal and enthusiasm could be recaptured. Scholars are not sure what their present problem was, but the author of the letter wanted them to recognise that any effort needed to rejuvenate themselves should be attempted. Effort in the present would bring about satisfaction in the future, because God responds to that effort.
Something of this same idea is contained in the words of Our Lord in the gospel today. The most difficult time for the farmer is when the seed must be sown. Once that work has been completed, the farmer can look forward to the harvest. And the day of the harvest makes him forget all the back breaking work which preceded it.
When we have bad days, and we all have them, we can look back on some past experience and remember that God got us through. That realisation should give us encouragement in the present and hope for the future. The harvest God will grant us is surely worth any struggle now.