Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126: 4-6)
A note to those who cry now: you may feel alone and unproductive, but don’t let it stop you sowing. There will be a time for harvest, and the seeds sown and watered with your tears will grow.
What are the seeds sown in mourning?
Conversations with God: When it’s difficult, we can be honest with God and find God can be relied on. There is no time or energy for saying ‘the right thing.’ Rather you say what is real, you express your pain and allow God to respond. It is often in pain that we most deepen our knowledge of God. My own experience is that I came to a personal knowledge of God in my grief at the loss of my father. It’s a long time ago now, but I still remember talking to God as if He were there in the room and realising that God the Father knew the pain of bereavement, as He had watched the Son die on the cross. With shock, I knew that God had chosen to go through this – why? The answer returned strongly: “Because I love you.” In that moment I knew I had to return some love – and so a seed was planted of friendship with God. The resulting plant is still growing.
Investment in friendships: it’s often said that it’s in suffering that you find out who your friends are. True friendship can be born in the tough times. Let me share another example from my own life. I don’t think Pat will mind me naming her. I had met her not long after we moved to Essex as she lived in the city about ten miles away from me and served on a ministry team of the Elim church there. I didn’t know her well, but when I found myself going through the toughest trial so far of our ministry, I woke up in the night acutely aware that I needed someone to talk to about my own feelings, someone who understood the strains of ministry. I felt alone but asked God who I could talk to, and Pat’s name immediately came to my mind. I called her later that morning and she graciously made time for me and helped me to some important insights about the situation we were facing. It was a seed sown in weeping which grew into a plant of enduring precious friendship through the remaining years of my time in Essex, and still bears fruit. Thanks Pat, I know you will read this!
There are other seeds which can be sown with tears – investment in projects, training for future roles, bringing up children, forgiving someone who has hurt us. Don’t ignore the pain, but know that your time of carrying your sheaves will come. Our greatest example in this is, as always, Jesus, who, “for the joy that was set before him … endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:3)