The last few months, with the loss of the baby and my mom’s diagnosis of cancer, have brought about some difficult moments. However, God is good and has proven his faithfulness in helping us and encouraging us through all of this. One of the ways he has encouraged my heart is through godly men and their exposition and application of the Word to my life.
The week I went back to work after the news about our unborn child, I came across the following devotional from John Piper. I read it again last week, when the Saturday before I was to preach I found out my mom’s tumor was an aggressive cancer. The devotional was such an encouragement to me, I wanted to share it with others, praying it might bless you as it has me. It comes from Piper’s book A Godward Life.
“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy! He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (RSV)
There is nothing sad about sowing seed. It takes no more work than reaping. The days can be beautiful. There can be great hope of harvest. Yet Psalm 126 speaks of “sowing in tears.” It says someone “goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing.” Why is he weeping?
I think the reason is not that sowing is sad or that sowing is hard. I think the reason has nothing to do with sowing. Sowing is simply the work that has to be done, even when there are things in life that make us cry. The crops won’t wait while we finish our grief or solve all our problems. If we are going to eat next winter, we must get out in the field and sow the seed whether we are crying or not.
This psalm teaches the tough truth that there is work to be done whether I am emotionally up for it or not, and it is good for me to do it. Suppose you are in a season of heartache and discouragement, and it is time to sow seed. Do you say, “I can’t sow the field this spring, because I am brokenhearted and discouraged?” If you do that, you will not eat in the winter. Suppose you say instead, “I am heartsick and discouraged. I cry if the milk spills at breakfast. I cry if the phone and doorbell ring a the same time. I cry for no reason at all, but the field needs to be sowed. That is the way life is. I do not feel like it, but I will take my bag of seeds and go out in the fields and do my crying while I do my duty. I will sow in tears.”
If you do that, the promise of this psalm is that you will “reap with shouts of joy.” You will “come home with shouts of joy, bringing your sheaves with you,” not because the tears of sowing produced the joy of reaping, but because the sheer sowing produces the reaping. We need to remember this even when our tears tempt us to give up sowing.
George MacDonald counseled the troubled soul, “Bethink thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go to do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feelings: Do thy work.”
So here’s the lesson: When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be done, and you are full of sadness and the tears are flowing easily, go ahead and do the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears: “Tears, I fell you. You make me want to quit life, but there is a field to be sown (dishes to be washed, a car to be fixed, a sermon to be written). I know you will wet my face several times today, but I have work to do and you will just have to go with me. I intend to take the bag of sees and sow. If you come along, then you will just have to wet the rows.”
Then say, by faith in future grace, on the basis of God’s Word, “Tears, I know that you will not stay forever. The very fact that I just do my work (tears and all) will in the end bring a harvest of blessing. God has promised. I trust him. So go ahead and flow if you must. I believe (I do not yet see it or feel it fully)- I believe that the simple work of sowing will bring sheaves of harvest, and your tears will be turned to joy.”
God has shown himself faithful in this, especially over the last two weeks. I praise him for bringing these truths to me just when I needed them. Our God is so good and his sustaining grace is so readily available for his own.