Tears Before Joy; September 30, 2022

Psalm 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

This is a justly famous passage, and it has been beautifully set to music in Japanese by a friend of mine. I’m sure it has been a massive comfort to countless saints over the centuries. The Psalm was doubtless written after the return from the Babylonian Captivity, but I’m sure it was quoted again, with great joy and vigor, after the reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The point of these last two verses, however, is far more broadly applicable to many situations in life. Joy is far better appreciated when we have something with which to contrast it! The figure of planting seeds is very applicable, because we never really know how many plants will come up, nor how great the yield will be. We don’t appreciate a good harvest until we’ve had a bad one or two! This figure seems particularly appropriate for evangelism in Japan, since the “yield” is generally so sparse, whether the one planting is Japanese or not. That’s why many Japanese cling to this passage in hope of the eventual joy of harvest.

Since I minister in Japan, this is particularly appropriate to me. As I have written before, my father once prostrated himself on the floor and cried out, “God, if I’m standing in the way of revival in Japan, then take me out of the way!” As a new missionary he had visited Shantung Province in China in 1935, so he knew what revival looked like. He had even been urged to switch fields, in order to get a better harvest. However, he knew his calling was to Japan, and he stayed true to that. He never saw revival here except by faith, but from his current perspective I’m sure he sees it, and rejoices! I’ve been here as a missionary myself for over 40 years, and I too have yet to see revival with my physical eyes, yet I do have assurance that it is coming. Whether I will be a part of it is up to God, but that is a completely unimportant detail. My current prayer is that my planting and my tears may be useful to God in bringing about His harvest in His timing for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for what You’re doing even now, using Cathy’s pain and my distress in Your plan in ways that we can’t currently perceive. Help us keep our focus on You, on Jesus who went through the cross for us, and rest assured of “the joy that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:2) so that we won’t give up but will remain faithful to the end, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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