“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5
This verse is underlined in my Bible with a word scribbled next to it: Hannah. God showed me this verse sometime after our five-year-old daughter Hannah died of a brain tumor. Because it mentions tears, this verse has always had a tender meaning to me. For any grieving heart, it’s comforting to know that God sees our tears, and He also gives us the hope that we will someday “reap with songs of joy.”
While we were on a deputation road trip this summer, God made me aware of something I hadn’t focused on in this verse before. We were driving back from Idaho to San Diego, going through the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. I was enjoying the trip immensely because as a child, my family would go camping in those mountains every summer. I decided to pull out my Bible, and I just happened to end up reading Psalm 126.
All of a sudden it occurred to me that I had always seen this psalm as a promise that if we have any sorrow in our lives, then someday God would turn it into songs of joy. But as I read that morning, the word “sow” stuck out to me. With clarity, the Holy Spirit pointed out that tears alone will not cause us to “reap with songs of joy.” The reaping will only come if we “sow” in tears. I thought back to many times I had cried tears of despair, and I realized that “sowing” in tears requires faith. “Sowing” means that even as we hurt, we trust God with our heart and plant seeds of obedience beneath the soil of our sorrow. Only then are we assured that we will “return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with [us].” (Psalm 126: 6)