“Those who sow in tears…
shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Ps 126:5)
My last post here was last year around this time…this is encouraging to me! The Lord is so faithful.
Seems I’m always contemplating this journey of grief so many seem to be on. The books on suffering, grief and sorrow are abundant. This “House of Mourning”, as one author put it, is an interesting, encouraging, sad place to live. Its almost like we are surprised when we suffer, even though James tells us to “count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Listening to some sermons recently and the study on the book of James in my women’s Bible study, has kind of helped me complete this circle in my mind (nobody else has those uncompleted circles in their head right?) of what we (as Christ followers) are to do with our tears of sorrow.
There seems to be two ways in which people deal with grief/suffering. Religiosity tells us to deny our feelings or ignore them and they will go away. Secularism tells us to express our feelings/vent, as if that is a good end in and of itself, and then elevate or bow to those feelings. Maybe there are even many of us that do both! And then pride ourselves of walking that perfectly balanced road 🙂
The Psalms are full of lamentations. There were so many times, in my own journey of grief that I could identify with the psalmists…their anger, despair, frustration. The Psalms seem to acknowledge neither the denying or venting of your feelings, but to pray them. Bring them before God and process them.
Tim Keller ( I will be paraphrasing) puts it this way:
Expect tears: This means that we need to dispel the christian myth that if you are a “good” Christian, God won’t let anything bad happen to you. If that myth were true, I don’t know how you would explain Jesus who was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”. If you do not expect tears you will be weeping about the things that grieve you, and be weeping about the fact that you are grieved! Talk about circles!
Invest your tears: “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps 126:6). Do not avoid or just express your tears – plant them. We are being called to invest our tears, to see them as an opportunity for fruitfulness and growth. If you plant your tears in the gospel they will produce joy. “Our slight, momentary, affliction is achieving an eternal weight of glory that outweighs everything” (2 Cor. 4:17).
The kind of joy you really need is the product of tears invested rightly. Ok, so practically what does this look like?
Pray your tears: Come to God with your tears. This transforms both the tears and the weeper. Pray your tears with the realization of his grace. God in his grace, understands your weeping. He knows how we speak when we are desperate. Why is he so understanding? Because He came, and His sorrows were so great he thought they would kill him before he even got to the cross…’my soul is sorrowful, even unto death”. Pray your tears with a vision of the cross. On the cross we see tears producing joy. When you plant your tears in the light of the cross, self pity and self absorption will not flourish but humbleness, trust, compassion and peace will grow. When you read the Psalms, notice that most of them end with a note of triumph, trust or peace. Tears planted, weeping changed, heart changed. Pray your tears with the assurance of glory. Do we know the joy that is inevitably coming? Do we have such assurance that we are happy enough to weep?
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
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