To Sow in Tears {DWITW 365}


September has rolled in and with it come the beginnings of change. Cooler breezes ruffle the trees. Frost tickles the edges of morning. Fall, in all of its multicolored glory, is imminent. The calendar on my kitchen wall testifies that summer has officially ended; and more than that, it has been a stalwart herald of hope in this season of fading warmth. Above its grid of numbered days extend a pair of watercolor red clovers accompanied by the words of Psalm 126:5:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”

When I think of this I feel as though my current days are defined by the tears they garner - tears of frustration, of relief, of sadness, of hurt, of regret, of repentance. Oh, how I long for the days that carry an outcry of joy. But to reach these joyful days, I must sow and steward the tears of this season. I also I think of the Israelites, their way of life steeped in the art and work of agriculture, and I wonder what it meant for them ‘to sow in tears.’

In our readings for DWITW 365 this week, Psalm 126 follows the events of Ezra and Nehemiah. The exiles have returned to Jerusalem. The temple and city walls have been rebuilt. The Israelites and those who have separated themselves for the Lord (Neh. 10:28) have committed anew to the Mosaic covenant given on Mt. Sinai so many generations ago. The people have at last begun to truly remember who God is, what He has done, and all He said He would do. And this psalm is a lament to Him.

In the first three verses the psalmist recalls God’s restoration, faithfulness, and great deeds which have given gladness to the Israelite community. They had lost much in their lives due to their own wayward unfaithfulness to the God they had once said they knew. The Israelites were cast out from their families, their homes, and the very Promised Land they had received. And all this was to save their hearts from the veiled deceit and wickedness they had begun to nurture, and ultimately to turn their eyes back to the God who called them His own. Though weighted with sorrow, a lament need not be devoid of hope. And so this lament begins anchored in the fertile ground of joy-infused renewal, daring us to remember the dreamlike wonder of what it means to be restored (Ps. 126:1).

From the recollection of this mercy, comes an outflow of hopeful prayer: 


“Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negev!
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.”
- Psalm 126:4-6

The psalmist compares the people to a desert region in southern Judah (the Negev) which he’s saying would flourish with vibrant plant life again, if its water-worn ravines were to be filled with streams once again. As I read this I feel arid places in my life - ones that I have tried to water with loving others well, keeping a tidy home, or being a good wife and mother. But these are things that are not meant to be my ultimate sources of life. These are things that are meant to flow from the ultimate Source of life, Christ Himself. I am not meant to fill the gullies that stand in my desert when I run dry, but instead I am to ask Jesus to fill them with His presence. I need the Living Water to fill and overflow these places.

And as I ask Him to prepare and tend the soil of my heart, I still need to go about the work that is mine to do. Because living is work. Relationships are work. And there is sowing to be done. So I pray and talk to the God who hears me when I cry out, the One who loves me better than I know. Therefore, I read His Word and linger and meditate on it to catch a better glimpse of Him than before. I listen for His Spirit to give direction to my steps.

Though I cannot control the seasons or the cycle of harvest, I know the God who does. And so I must rely on Him to do the work He has always done. It is the Lord who whispers to the seed when it is time for sprouting. It is by His prompting that the sun shines and the rain falls. It is by His hand that the work of transformation is done.

our eternity is meant to be spent in His glorious presence, making much of who He is and reveling in the joy of shouting His name as we come home.

So, whether you are feeling weighed down by sorrow, or bursting at the seams with shouts of joy, you need not pretend you are in any season other than the one you find yourself in. Fight to remember what is true. The truth is: That you, dear sister, are loved by the holy God that made you. And there is no one else that He would rather hear from or spend time with - He wants and desires you. You are precious to Him whether you are weeping or shouting and He is there with you in the midst of it. He is within you in the midst of it.

We cannot taste life without Jesus, just as a clover cannot grow or blossom without rain. We cannot flourish apart from the Author of life itself. We were made for Him. While we are not promised earthly days marked by ease or happiness, our eternity is meant to be spent in His glorious presence, making much of who He is and reveling in the joy of shouting His name as we come home.


 Robin Zastrow wants to live in a world where coffee never gets cold and kindness abounds. When she's not discovering the wonders of construction paper and cardboard tubes with her two little ones, you can find her sneaking in another few pages of a book or jotting down bits of writing on scraps of paper.

One of her favorite Scriptures is:“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV