5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Tonight there was a party in our house. A pizza party complete with soda and breadsticks. The occasion? All three kids who are in school brought home great grades. Fantastic grades. For the first time since our life changed drastically, when they lost their father to a prison sentence and a divorce, their grades were excellent.
Everyone’s grades, except for my youngest girl, slipped greatly in the ensuing months. My oldest son was barely passing. My youngest son got mediocre grades when he normally got all A’s and an occasional B. My oldest daughter (now graduated) saw her grades slip dramatically as well, even getting an F in her yearbook class, of all things.
But their grades today were tremendous. Absolutely tremendous.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because it represents for our family another step toward normalcy. A new normal; a different normal; yes. But normal nonetheless.
I came across this Psalm today, Psalm 126. Particularly verses 5 and 6. And I had to think about it for quite awhile; really think about the meaning. The Psalm is a Psalm of joy. God has restored the fortunes of Zion. Their response was one of joy and laughter. Those around them proclaimed that God had done great deeds for them. And then it goes into verse 5 and 6.
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. He who goes out weeping bearing the seed for sowing shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
What does it mean that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy?
I think John Piper says it best:
“So here’s the lesson: When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be done, and you are full of sadness, and tears are flowing easily, go ahead and do the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears: ‘Tears, I feel you. You make me want to quit life. But there is a field to be sown (dishes to be washed, car to be fixed, 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 seeds and sow. If you come along then you will just have to wet the rows.”
I am finding this to be truth in my life. When life first fell apart, there were honestly days that I didn’t think I could get out of bed. And there were days when I stayed there long past what I should have. But there have also been days, thanks to the grace of God, that I have just done the next thing. A load of laundry. A child to chauffeur to a school function. A floor to sweep. And when I say that it was only by the grace of God, I mean that to the fullest. Sometimes I had to be pushed. Pushed to get outside and walk. There weren’t often tears, though there were sometimes. More often, instead of tears there was simply despair and hopelessness. A futility.
The same went for my kids. They struggled with school. They struggled to understand. But they kept putting one foot in front of the other, also by the merciful grace of God. And tonight, we-as a family-are reaping shouts of joy over normal school grades.
Yes, this may seem like a small thing. But it’s not. It’s huge. It’s a huge thing that we celebrated tonight; a sense of accomplishment. We set out this school year to get back on track academically and it’s happening. It’s happening. And I couldn’t be more proud.
There are many things in my life that I wish would disappear or that I could erase, that never would have happened. And there are many things that I wish were so different. So very different. And yet…..
I am thankful. I am thankful for this life that God has given me. Am I thankful for the hard things that have happened? I’d have to say honestly no. I so would prefer that they had never happened, that I had never known darkness, evil or loss. But even so, I would not change for one instant how God has used them to shape my life, how He has pursued me, and how by His grace He has strengthened me, sustained me, provided for our family, and continues to lead us forward.
There are still hard days. There are still days when all I know to do, is to do the next thing. To keep putting one foot in front of the other. But I have to trust that this Psalm is truth, that when the despair threatens to overcome me and drown me, God will maintain His hold on my life and shouts of joy will come again.