"Those who sow weeping will go out with songs of joy."
"Although we are weeping Lord, help us keep sowing The seeds of Your Kingdom, For the day You will reap them Your sheaves we will carry, Lord, please do not tarry All those who sow weeping will go out with songs of joy." -Psalm 126 (Molly Parden - Bifrost Arts)
I am often struck by how little the heroes of our faith were given during their encounters with God. We naturally focus on things like burning bushes, or rumbling earthquakes and the tumbling of walls...but we so often miss what was happening in between. We miss the moments of faith that every single one of us can identify with - the moments where we might say “Is this it?”
In Acts, as Stephen recounts the history of our faith, he makes a small little mention about Abraham that caused me to pause. Though we know Abraham to have been promised great things, and to have shown faith that is beyond understanding Stephen reminds us that Abraham received no inheritance when he moved into a new land, “not even a foot of ground" (Acts 7:5).
So in a week where the darkness of a broken world has felt harder than usual to face, I asked myself: Am I willing to follow God if I don’t have even a foot of ground given to me in this life? Sometimes I feel like I’m watching my friends live out Abraham’s life. The future hope. The future glory...but in this life, practically nothing. The constant nagging that there has to be something more than all of the brokenness around us. Where is my foot of ground here? When are the promises of something better going to be fulfilled?
In an attempt to quiet my heart I turned on a streaming radio station and selected a ‘worship’ category. The first song came on with the following lyrics:
“Maybe I don’t have the strength, Maybe I don’t have the faith, You brought me here in 40 years, I know this trip should take a week.”
I was dumbfounded.
I could feel my heart begin to race as I spoke in anger to God: “I knew it. This trip was only supposed to take a week...and you have us wandering around for 40 years? For what!”
We somehow think if we were with Israel in the desert we would have been fine wandering, because after all God was actually there! He was a pillar of smoke and fire and spoke to them! We cannot fathom anything so humbling and grand. Yet we have Israel begging Moses to go back to slavery because it would be better than following this God of smoke and fire through a desert.
When I watch people around me suffer, how quickly do I beg to go back to Egypt? How often in the desert, before an all consuming God do I ask for a golden calf?
“Lord take me back to innocence…” “Lord take me back to those moments when I wasn’t aware this sin was around…” “Lord take us back to when life was simpler…” “Lord, anything but this…”
Maybe we can’t identify as much with the Israelites wandering in the desert, but what about when they went into captivity in Babylon? Can you identify with that feeling of loss? Can you identify with what it must have felt like to walk out of Jerusalem, the walls in ruins, your home smoldering, never knowing if you will feel freedom again?
Psalm 126 was written around the time of this captivity and you can almost feel the longing sadness in the words as the author recounts their bondage. They work in the fields, mourning their homes that are gone...mourning the lives they once had. Can you imagine looking around at your family, your closest friends and all saying “This isn’t where we are supposed to be! Babylon isn’t our home!”
Have you looked around at your community and said these words? Have you felt the weight of captivity and darkness in this world and longed for your better home? We live our days in a land that is not our own. The brokenness of this world holds us captive, destroys everything we love and removes what we hold precious and dear from our hands.
In his commentary on this Psalm, Matthew Henry writes about the poor farmer who holds the last seeds of his crops just before planting them. When I read it, I felt the terror of parting with those seeds. The farmer begins to weep knowing that if these seeds do not grow, his family will not have food. To sow these seeds while weeping is to understand our utter helplessness. The farmer cannot will these seeds to grow anymore than he can make the rain come to nurture them.
Can you feel the seeds in your life slipping into the ground? The helpless feeling of chaos happening around you...happening in your home...happening inside of you. We weep as we sow the seeds of our faith amidst the growing darkness. We weep as we sow the seeds of our faith in a distant land. We weep together for a King that will rescue us from this captivity.
But it is important that we weep together. It is important that we feel our helplessness as a community. It is important that we do not hold onto these seeds of faith and lose hope in a return. It is important that we allow each other to wet the ground with our tears.
Brothers and sisters may we continue to move into these fields and plant our seeds of faith, even while weeping. May we take the time to wet the soil with our tears, mourning what is not yet. May we work together, turning the soil and trusting in the hope of a future harvest. May we all point our gaze to the day when we will return to Jerusalem, our hands filled with the sheaves of fulfilled promises, our hearts filled with joy and our mouths filled with laughter.
Our promise is of an even greater fortune than returning to a ruined city. Our promise is even greater than ‘a foot of land’ of inheritance. Our promise is in a King who is making all things new.
May He come quickly.
What does it look like to plant our seeds of faith in our communities when there is suffering?