“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” Ps. 126:5
We may wonder, “What is there to weep about when it is sowing time?” This story1 was told by a missionary from Africa's South Sahara desert. There, the climate is close to the Middle East, where rain comes only four months in a year, from May through August. For the next eight months, there is no rain. Grains are grown and harvested in the four months. The granary is full, and families eat two meals a day. When December comes, the grain stock diminishes. Poor families who can’t afford to buy grain eat only one meal a day in the evening, so that they can sleep with their stomachs filled. By March, most poor families would have run out of grain. And in April, many face starvation.
One April day, a boy ran excitedly to his father and shouted, “Dad, we got grain!”
The father said, “Son, you know we haven’t had grain for weeks.”
The son said, “We have it. It’s in a bucket in the store! Give it to mummy to make flour, so that our tummies can sleep tonight!”
The father sat motionless. “Son, we can’t. That’s next year’s grain. It’s the only thing between us and starvation. We are waiting for the rains, and then we use it.”
Finally, rain came in May. The father took out the bucket of grain. Then he did the unthinkable. Instead of using it to feed his starving family, with tears in his eyes he threw and scattered the grains to the ground. Why would he do such a thing? Because he believed in the harvest. The act of sowing hurt him so much that he cried.
Pastors in Africa use this story to bring home one of the points of Ps. 126:5: This is God’s law of the harvest — don’t expect to harvest later on unless we sow in tears. The psalmist further expands the point in the next verse: “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him”.
Sowing in tears is to part with something (e.g. possessions, time) that costs or pains us, with the expectation of receiving in return that which is good for God’s kingdom.
In essence, the law of the harvest typifies the gospel truth. Our loving God the Father sowed by giving his Son to die for us, so that we may be redeemed. The Beloved Son sowed by emptying himself to come down to us, suffered on the cross, separated from the Father for a time, so that victory over death is won. The eleven faithful disciples sowed by giving of themselves with tears and martyrdom, and, enabled by the Spirit, churches were born, so that the universal church might one day be consummated in joy and glory.
Each Sunday now, we are glad to see members and friends in worship, many of whom have come from CCK. We are ‘harvesting with joy’ in Henderson because many have ‘sowed in tears’ in CCK.
Now, how will our next harvest be in Henderson? And how shall we sow, now that we understand God’s law of the harvest? Perhaps leaders and members may consider:
Be willing to forgo time for self and reorder priorities on alternate Wednesday nights to join the church to pray for God’s purpose to be accomplished for Henderson.
Be willing to lead or serve in new ‘start-up ministries’ as God leads, although the ground may be difficult and trying.
Be willing to confess our sins against God and man, and repent with tears of sorrow so that all parts of this body are pleasing in God’s sight.
Be willing to commit time to disciple new believers or friends, or attend CG meetings regularly, so that the church, through relational discipleship, may move together towards maturity in Christ.
The list may go on. Let us hasten to sow, and in tears, lest we soon fall into comfort and complacency in freehold Henderson. Jesus told his disciples, “This will be your opportunity to bear witness… because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:13, 28).
1. Story from African missionary narrated by Julius Kim, TGCW21 Conference, 2021. - Lee Pang Wee