With the arrival of August and the start of school, I’m enjoying getting back to a routine! One of my favorite routines is brewing my coffee and opening my Bible on the dark, quiet mornings before the kids awake. God has met me in some very sweet and tender ways, and I thirst for that time each day.
I am currently reading in Mark and in the Psalms, and one verse in Psalms caught my eye this week:
Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. –Psalm 126:5
I’m a gardener, if you haven’t heard. 😉 Just a few weeks ago I sowed seeds for my fall crops. And you know what has never happened as I’ve sown seeds, ever?
Though one goes along weeping, carrying a bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves. –Psalm 126:6
Never have I ever wept while planting. It’s instead a joyous time!
So why does the Psalmist describe sowing seeds with tears?
If you look back at the verses preceding these, you’ll see hints. The Psalmist describes the people of Israel after they returned to their homeland. They had previously sinned grievously and God, after decades of patient long-suffering, gave them over to their enemies. Their Babylonian captors took them away from their homeland in a bloody, traumatic fashion — unthinkable to us.
Interestingly, it was after the survivors began to settle into this foreign land away from their home that God promised He would bring them back in the oft-quoted verse, Jeremiah 29:11. Though He turned them over to their enemies, He promised He still had plans for them, to prosper and not to harm them. He still longed to give them a hope and a future.
When about seventy years passed, all of Israel were given the opportunity to return. (Interestingly, not all chose to.)
Those who did, returned to find their former homeland, the place of their ancestors’ prior glory and prosperity, in ruins. But they had taken the step to return back to their homeland — back to their God — and they sought to take one step after another to begin again.
A critical step, therefore, was sowing seed, dropping the smallest bits of faith in the earth in a hope for a harvest.
Can you imagine? Their homeland lay in ruins. Fields had been left untended for decades, a visual reminder of their sin and God’s wrath. Yet, with their step of faith in returning, they hung on to a small sliver of hope, having faith that God would indeed restore them — their hearts to Himself and their land to prosperity.
Here’s what I learn about God from this passage:
God is a God of hope, redemption, restoration.
Even when it looks like God has turned us over to our enemy or to our own sinful desires, He still seeks His own.
God’s timing isn’t our timing, and His ways aren’t our ways. But we can trust him. Always.
Here’s what I learn about us in this passage:
We can choose not to return, as most of the Israelites did. Or we can choose to bravely go back to our God.
Even if we’re surrounded by destruction (of either our own choosing or God’s discipline), we can take small steps of faith and start sowing seed.
Can I share one more ray of hope here?
At the end of 2 Chronicles, following the Israelites’ tragic exile to Babylon, you’ll find this small but mighty verse:
This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Jeremiah, and the land enjoyed its Sabbath rest all the days of the desolation until seventy years were fulfilled. –2 Chronicles 36:21
God had commanded the Israelites centuries earlier, through Moses, to give the land a full year’s rest every seventh year and another rest every fiftieth year. But, I can find no indication that they ever obeyed this command. If you’ve ever gardened, you know a rested land naturally begins to replenish nutrients for a future productive crop.
So while the returning exiles probably came back to a weedy, agricultural mess, the land, having rested for a full seventy years, contained the nutrients ready for new growth. New hope!
What can we take from this?
Even during the times God disciplines us, He is working in the background, preparing situations and circumstances we can’t see. When we return, and we begin to sow those tiny seeds of faith, we can look forward to abundant harvest — reaping with shouts of joy!
I don’t know where this email finds you today, but my prayer is that you found encouragement, comfort, or maybe a kick in the pants if that’s what you needed. 😉
With fall arriving and the fresh opportunities for new routines, make sure you’re in the Bible. Even just a little every day to start. If you need a place to start but don’t know how to do it, please contact me. I’d love to help guide you on where you might begin reading God’s word. He desires that intimacy with you! No matter where you are spiritually.
I long for your salvation; I put my hope in your word. –Psalm 119:81