The Next Year People


The people living in the wasteland of the Dust Bowl region knew suffering. It was beside them, trickling in through every crack in the roof, they breathed it in with every inhalation.

Suffering was ever present in their every moment.

Still, many of them made it through. They didn’t allow bitterness in with the dust. Instead, they grew in faith, grew in compassion for others.

In my research for A Cup of Dust I learned about the resilience of these folks, not just to survive, but to come out of the Dust Bowl stronger than they were when the first storm hit.

I’ve struggled to figure out what it was that made it so for them. How could they look in the face of plagues of Biblical proportion (jackrabbits, locust, dust, drought) and still hold strong?

One word.


The people who lived in the Dust Bowl area were called “next year people”. Why? Because they were known for saying things like, “next year, when it rains” over and over and over, regardless of how long they’d been dry. “Next year, when things are better”.


Was their optimism foolish? Delusional? Ill-founded?

Nah, I don’t think so. I think the right thing to say is that their hope was rooted in faith.

“It’s gotta rain sometime.”

In the book, Meemaw tells Pearl “Every storm has a beginning and every storm’s got an end. They never last forever… God’s the one who saves. Don’t forget it.”

That, folks, THAT is how I want my faith to be. That’s how I want to rely on God during times of storm and darkness and pain.

And all it took was a for a character I made up to say it in order for me to see how true it is.

Hope. Faith. God’s the one who saves. Don’t forget it.

One Comment on “The Next Year People

  1. Pingback: The Martian, The Dust Bowl, and The Will to Live | Susie Finkbeiner

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