Those who sow in tears

On a Thursday morning about a year ago, I received one text after another saying a variation of the same message: “We won’t be coming to small group tonight.”

The house was cleaned (no small feat with my little children), the shopping was done and the food was made, and Will had a lesson prepared. Anticipation had been building all week, for small group is one of my favorite ways to connect with people.

After the final text sealed our fate–nobody was coming–I stumbled back to my bedroom, curled in a fetal position on the bed, and sobbed. “Don’t people want Jesus?”

My response was far out of proportion to the letdown of that one event. Of course things come up to change our schedules. I haven’t nearly always gone to an event that I hoped to attend.

But none of this made sense or mattered at the moment. I just cried. I wanted to bring Jesus to my town, and it felt like people didn’t care whether they knew Him or not.

Scrunched up in agony on my bed, I heard God speak into my heart:

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 126:5-6 (ESV)

Suddenly I knew what it meant to “sow in tears.” I had experienced it.

In my community, I have no roots, and all my relationships are beginning from scratch. One person and one conversation at a time, I am planting seeds of meaningful connection. The process is agonizingly slow, because trust and belonging are not built in haste.

My children are young, so hours and hours of my time are spent feeding, clothing, cuddling, disciplining, and teaching them. Many days I feel like I do it badly, but still much effort goes into creating an environment of safety and care. I’m planting seeds, but I don’t see the results–not yet.

The local body of Christ has deeply blessed me. I am humbled by their welcoming acceptance of our family. Yet I often feel I have done so little to grow that body. Bringing people in is hard work, harder than I ever imagined!

This is a planting season.

And there are tears.

Several weeks ago, I sat in a friend’s van and talked like I hadn’t been able to talk for so long. With tears streaming down my face, I said, “My work is so invisible!”

She said, “You need your spiritual eyes opened to what God is really doing in your town.”

I remembered the verses that God had given me that morning that small group was canceled.

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 126:5-6 (ESV)

For the first time, I realized that these verses hold a promise. Those who plant through their tears will reap with joy.

Even now moments of joy touch me, I thought, when I have an unexpectedly intimate conversation with a neighbor, or when one of my children surprises me with unprecedented maturity, or when I see growth–people wanting Jesus–in our town.

In my heart, I knew that going forth as a spiritual farmer, spreading the golden seeds of the Gospel all over my home and town, meant that many times I would soak the ground with tears of loneliness and despair.

But God is faithful to keep His promises.

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.


Some of you reading this have suffered far, far more than I ever have. The promise is for you, too. If you have sowed in tears, you will certainly reap with great joy.


6 thoughts on “Those who sow in tears

  1. kelly

    I hear you. This post is beautiful, as is your heart’s cry for your town. This post touched me deeply because I just really do get it. My experience isn’t identical to yours but it has enough similarities for it to have been a real source of encouragement. Thank you for sharing this!


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