Thirsty Thursday- Sowing with Tears Psalm 126

Thirsty Thursday- Sowing with Tears Psalm 126

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 126:5-6)

“Sowing With Tears”

There is a long-held belief that pain and suffering are two of the primary—or perhaps even essential—ingredients of great art. In his book, Tortured Artists, author and art critic Christopher Zara points out that Vincent Van Gogh painted his masterpiece “Starry Night” at the depth of his mental and emotional illness; John Lennon and Paul McCartney found their creative kinship in the deaths of their respective mothers; John Milton wrote Paradise Lost after losing his wife, his daughter and his eyesight! And the list goes on and on. Zara’s conclusion? Our suffering does not happen in vain.

The idea of productive or redemptive suffering is at the heart of the Christian faith as well. Examples abound in the stories of the Bible—from Noah to Job, from Joseph to Jesus. The apostle Paul goes so far as to say we should “rejoice in our sufferings,” because suffering will eventually produce the endurance, character and hope we need. (Romans 5:3-4) Scripture confirms again and again: our suffering need not happen in vain.

Psalm 126 is a song of encouragement, reminding us that our God uses both our joys and our hardships to accomplish his purposes in us and through us. The psalm begins with a hopeful recollection. The song writer is remembering how God “restored the fortunes of Zion,” filling the people with laughter and joy (vs. 1-2). Some scholars translate those fortunes as a return of the “captives” or “exiles.” The Message puts it this way:

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,  when God returned Zion’s exiles. We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” (Psalm 126:1-2, MSG)

Whatever the cause of their good fortune, it was also a clear testimony to the other nations. God had done great things for them. God had used their restoration, not only to bring gladness to His people’s hearts, but to reveal His goodness and glory to the world around them.  Their present joy had a purpose, and because of that so did their previous suffering.

And so, naturally, the writer goes on to pray, “Restore our fortunes (again), Lord, like streams in the Negev.” (vs. 4). Clearly, the people find themselves once more in some kind of physical or spiritual desert. Clearly, the psalmist would rather be singing songs of joy than songs of suffering! But he continues,

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 126:5-6)

The psalmist affirms once again that there is a purpose in the pain. Somehow, someday, the emptiness of their spiritual desert will be filled with an abundant spiritual harvest. Their suffering does not happen in vain, or at least, it doesn’t have to. Pain can move us toward purpose…frustration can lead to fertility. Sowing with tears can result in reaping with joy.

But here’s the deal: it doesn’t just happen, all by itself. It requires us to “go out carrying seed to sow” before we can hope to “return carrying sheaves;” it requires the weeping and tears as well as the songs of joy.

In some ways, Psalm 126 speaks to the question of motivation. We are quite naturally motivated by God’s blessing. We love to sing, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (vs. 3). Celebrating our deliverance and “good fortune” can be an effective testimony to the people around us. But so, too can our “tears” and “weeping.” Our tears can testify to our faith and hope in the middle of a spiritual desert, and they can also testify to our care and concern for the suffering all around us. 

Most of us know what suffering feels like.  Most of us have probably shed tears over our own hardships or the pain of someone we love. But what would it mean to “go out weeping, carrying seeds to sow?”

Jesus looked out over the lost souls of people he had come to save, and he wept (Luke 19:41-44).  Those tears of compassion led him to the cross…to suffering and death and redemption. As followers of Jesus, we don’t simply weep for ourselves. We weep tears of empathy with the people who are lost and alone apart from Christ’s love; and we weep tears of sympathy with the God who loves the “nations” as much as He loves “His people.”  If you want to experience real joy in Christ, pray for the harvest, where “We will come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.” But before you can reap with joy, you’ll need to sow with tears. Suffering doesn’t need to happen in vain.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Pastor Philip


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.