While I was praying with some moms for their children recently, I suddenly saw a picture of an ear of barley in my head. Did a quick Google search and found that barley, like other grains such as wheat and rice, is classified as grass. It was one of the earliest grains to be cultivated and is currently the fourth highest in terms of quantity being produced. In fact, it has many uses and is seen as a highly nutritious health food.
As I continued to ask God about the significance of this picture, I realised that many people, including the young people we were praying for, probably feel like they are as worthless as grass. Thoughts of not being good enough, not valued by others, and not having any purpose in life, are common to many children and youth. Is that not like grass, which grows and withers quickly, without being noticed by anyone? Such sentiments also seem to be reflected in Isaiah 40:7, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass."
However, if we scan through the Bible, we actually find that grass is highly valued by God. Otherwise, He wouldn’t clothe the grass of the field in splendour beyond Solomon’s (Matthew 6:29-30), nor would the grass be so carefully mentioned in three out of four accounts of the feeding of five thousand (Matthew 14:19, Mark 6:39, John 6:10). And when the earlier verse in Isaiah 40:7 was quoted by Peter, he explained that when we have the living Word of God in us, we are no longer perishable like grass but we become imperishable (1 Peter 1:23-25).
Furthermore, He has created grass for a purpose (check Wikipedia!), just as how He has set us apart in our mother’s womb and called each one of us to a wonderful destiny (Isaiah 49:1, Jeremiah 1:5, Galatians 1:15). But if the grains are not gathered and processed, they would just remain as grass and the nutrients would be left untapped. So every individual needs to seek God to discover what his/her unique purpose in this life is and then pursue it, in order to fulfil the potential that He has given. Until then, we would go through life aimlessly and find it meaningless, for “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a KJV). Yet when we have the Word of God in us and allow Him to direct us in realising the purpose He has ordained for our lives, we will find true fulfilment and joy. That is why the second half of the verse says, “one who follows divine instruction will be happy” (Proverbs 29:18b CSB).