They That Sow in Tears
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”Psalms 126:5
This is one of my favorite Bible verses of encouragement! There have been many times in my life that I have literally been drowning in tears, feeling helpless and captive in the situation, but still plugged on, working towards what I wanted my life to look like. Wether that was just making a Pinterest board or a vision board, dreaming about what life should look like, taking myself out of harsh reality if even for just a moment.
The thing is, what this verse is telling us, is that if you choose to plug on and don‘t give up, no matter how heartbroken and beaten down you feel, you shall reap a beautiful harvest. One of my favorite things to do is really pick apart the verbiage used in Bible verses, and dig deeper into the meaning. This is one of the ways you know the Bible is truth, despite parts missing, because there is so much substance in every word, that you can always “mine the verbiage“. This is one of the coolest things you can do, because more digging just illuminates the Bible’s promises, God’s love and good plans for you even more! It’s how you know the truth runs deep. Shallow words can’t be mined.
So in this verse, notice how after describing “sowing in tears”, follows “shall reap in joy”….
from an ex-law enforcement perspective, there are VERY important differences legally between using words in protocols and laws like “should”, “will”, “shall”. The most permanent and immovable of those words is “shall”. When you “shall” do something, it means its happening, there’s no way around it, it’s concrete, consider it done.
Using “should” from the lense of law enforcement means it’s something that would be better if it were done, but there’s other ways around it. “Should” is not a very strong word at all. It is the weakest of the three.
Now last is the word “will”, which means it’s something in the future, but also denotes there‘s some attempt to accomplish, which always leaves room for error. “Will” is not a guarantee, it’s a forceful future command, but that’s all it is. That brings us back to “shall”. The Bible verse says “SHALL reap in joy”. That is telling us God promised absolutely without a doubt, reaping in joy is happening! It’s as good as being written in stone. There were no other weaker choices of verbiage used here.
You know what else we haven’t mined? The “reap” part. What is “reaping”? Well, from a farmer’s or gardener’s perspective, it’s the gathering of a harvest. This is one of the reasons I love reading the Bible, because it was clearly written with farmers and cowboys in mind! The verse says “shall reap in joy”, so if you’re “reaping” something, that means what you planted in the “sow in tears” portion did produce a harvest! Wow! Now let’s start linking our newly mined verbiage together- remember how strong a word “shall” is? When we link “shall reap”, that means God promised through extremely strong language that there is a beautiful bountiful harvest of good things and new life waiting for you! Wow! God told us this in just two words! “Shall reap”.
We know now what God promised to do, but let’s go back and mine our portion of action required in the first part of that text. “Those that sow in tears”. First, “those” references of course us. We the people. God’s people. Next, we’re at “sow”, which in this case is pronounced “so-h”, meaning to plant. A gardener or farmer plants or “sows” seeds in order to grow something. This one word right here is an action word indicating that our requirement for God to give us something wonderful is that we have to “sow” or PLANT something.
Here’s the thing- I know a lot of people who just sit around whining and crying about their troubles, but that’s all they ever do. They don’t actually get off their a$$ and take any action. God is not a Communist. He rewards action, not inaction. God does not shower blessings and bountiful harvests to all His children, even the ones that didn’t plant anything. Sorry to break it to you, not only is it outlined very strongly here, but in many other Bible stories. God requires action from you. It’s YOUR job to plant the seeds.
Another observation on the overall context of the verse is that if you only plant a few seeds, what comes up? A few plants! If you plant a whole lot of seeds, what comes up? A whole lot of plants! A much bigger harvest. In this verse, “those that sow in tears, shall reap in joy”, notice there aren’t any extra descriptors used like, ”those that plant a few seeds shall reap a ten-fold harvest”. Instead, it appears left intentionally simple here, with plenty of room to subjectively conclude that the amount of actions, or “seeds” you sow, are exactly the amount of harvest you’ll get. God promises those seeds will produce something happy, that brings you joy, but it’s up to you the amount of happy you want to reap.
This takes us to the “in tears” portion of the verse. When we read “sow in tears”, obviously that’s pretty descriptive about something in our life not going well. Just from the arrangement of the words, it paints a clear picture that we’re not planting with happy tears. These are sad tears, because there is a contrast where you’re “reaping in joy”. There would be no need for a contrasting ending otherwise. This portion of the verse indicates that life is really getting us down. What are reasons you’d shed tears? I’ve shed tears over lawsuits, feeling stuck/trapped in a way of life I hated, feeling angry at some a$$hole neighbor continually cooking up ugly deeds to do to me, lack of money, loss of a dear pet, or just having to show up in a seemingly endless loop to a job I hated. I’m sure you’ve experienced some if not all of those things. But like our previous word mining revealed, despite our heavy emotional burden, sending hot tears streaming down our face, we tough it out and do the work anyway! We plant even though we’re sad, mad, hopeless, or tired.
The question is, WHAT are we planting? While the verse isn’t specific about the what, it sure does give us clues outside the words we mined by painting a picture about what’s going on. The verse in my opinion is left intentionally vague on the specifics so that it would apply to EVERYONE. God loves variety (another reason we know He’s not a Communist), so what you’re planting is extremely tailored to you and your situation. There is one thing we do know about the seeds you’re planting- they bring you joy at harvest time!
A small suggestion on your own planting- when you are sowing those seeds in sadness, make sure you’re using that sadness to really fuel the planting efforts! The more tears streaming down your face, let those push you harder toward that harvest! Let those hot tears water your seeds as you plant! And in case you’re left wondering, HOW you plant these proverbial “seeds”? These could be any action or actions on your part like writing about how you’re thankful for the beautiful outcome of all your hard work in a journal (always write as if it’s already happened. Words are more powerful than you think! Read Habakkuk 2:2). This could be writing out a business plan, using Pinterest to make a digital list or plan of all the things you’ll need in that new house, making an effort to save back money in a special box on your dresser or account at the bank. It could be beginning writing that book you’ve put off, making flyers for your dog-walking business and starting that in your spare time. Think about this- how big of a production is it to plant a seed? It’s not at all! Seeds are sometimes so tiny they’re hard to see. This means your effort put into the planting doesn’t have to be some grand gesture. It just has to be concentrated effort. The verse doesn‘t say, “Those that catch and train a wild elephant shall reap in joy”….. if that’s the amount of effort required, I’m certain God would have inspired the author to write that.
So what has our word mining revealed today? It revealed that God requires just one small effort of planting seeds for your desired future. Or better yet, a bunch of tiny efforts. Even in your lowest rock-bottom times! To me, it also reveals God doesn’t reward a poon. A cry-baby would just sit down and throw a fit, whine, and not actually take any action, then wonder why they’re still in the same hovel they started with. Narcissists are good at this also. God doesn’t reward them either. God is a fair and just creator, He is not a communist, therefore when you ”suck it up Buttercup”, put on your tallest rubber boots, and fight through the tears while you’re planting your dreams and future, God guaranteed you a harvest of happiness and joy! Tailor made to whatever it is that makes you happy.
That’s pretty good, for just nine little words.
”Those that sow in tears, shall reap in joy”
Happy planting frens!
Jean-François Millet, Man with a Hoe
Oil on canvas