Psalm 126:1-6 (ESV)

A Song of Ascents.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dream.

[2] Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then they said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

[3] The Lord has done great things for us;

we are glad.

[4] Restore our fortunes, O Lord,

like streams in the Negeb!

[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.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. He who goes out weeping … shall come home with shouts of joy … You have to like the King James version’s rendering of Psalm 126:6 when it says that those who go out weeping shell doubtless return with songs of joy … . It emphasizes the solidness of the promises of God.

What God says will happen, will happen – without doubt. It is a great truth but lest we lose sight of it, the promise that we shall reap with shouts of joy is connected to the promise that we shall sow in tears. You can put a “doubtless” in there as well. There is no doubt that we are going to cry. And we are going to cry because people oppose us and hate us and abuse us and deny the message and accuse us and plot against us and – oh the list is just too long.

There are tears. They come from hurt. Sometimes the hurt is other believers who seem absent of the love that Jesus said would characterize His disciples. We picture the farmer getting up before sunrise. His back aches from the day before. Yesterday rain washed seed away and today it needs to be done all over again. Birds eat the seed. Bugs eat the shoots. Animals eat the fruit. Too much sun and the crops will shrivel up and die. Too much rain and the seed will rot in the ground. The farmer’s skin is like leather. His heart is heavy. It is always the same. Every year after year after year.

And the Christian gets up and his heart aches. Yesterday his faith was maligned. An old friend betrayed him. Someone at work took credit for his work and got the bonus that goes with it. His son thinks the Gospel is for the birds (the same ones who steal the seed). He has no friends at the church and the last time he confided in anyone it was through the whole church in a week. Yet he keeps on because he believes that they who sow in tears will doubtless reap with joy.

Are you a Christian leader ,a pastor, elder, deacon, board member? Are you sowing in tears? Are the tears caused by the lack of commitment of some, the over work of others, the hardness of heart of so many? Does the lack of fruit from the work cause the tears? Have other church leaders opposed your plans, impugned your motives and ignored the teaching? Have you gone to other pastors only to find that they can cause as many tears as anyone?

Tears. Church work, evangelistic work, discipling work, youth work, whatever the work, there are tears. Paul knew it. He lived through his tears. His heart broke over the sins of those he led to Christ. He got anxious regarding their possible succumbing to the myriad of false teachings and teachers who were on the prowl. Such is the work. It has been captured in the phrase “vale of tears”, meaning valley of tears, which reminds us of the valley of the shadow of death.

Without the Gospel nothing could be more depressing. Because the message of the Scriptures is that while weeping may tarry for the night, joy comes with the morning. If this is not so we are of all people, most miserable. But it is true. It was true for the Old Testament prophets. It was true for Jesus. It was true for the early church. And it has been true for the faithful ever since. You are in good company if your tears are caused by faithfulness to the Gospel. Jesus said we should rejoice in the face of opposition since others before us have suffered in the same way. So, we can find joy in the fact that there is nothing unusual in our tears. Others had them long before we did.

And then there is the morning. Morning is coming. We can have joy because we know the morning is coming. We can have joy now knowing that there is complete joy, absent of all tears coming. And one day we will have that tearless complete joy. The Apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Cor. 4:17-18:

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18] as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Tears. Don’t be fooled by them. They are not a message that you are doing everything wrong. They are not saying that the world is not worth it. They are not saying that you should quit and go do something a little less painful. They are saying, this is the way the faithful have always been treated. This is how Jesus and a host of others were treated. This is your calling. And some day, you will have joy that is eternal and none of the tears. Go sow some seed.