A devotional thought from Jonathan Leeman for “Psalms”
Read Psalm 126. Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy, says the psalmist. It’s a striking image. Tear drops trickle into the ground, as if thrown from a bag of seed. Time passes. And then up grow sheaves of joy. It’s not enough to say that the tears precede the joy. The tears produce the joy, like seed produces the sheaves that follow.
This is the joy that the returning people of Israel harvested from their tears in exile. Jesus too said that a seed must go into the ground and die before producing a large crop (John 12:23-25). Sure enough, first came His burial, then His resurrection. First the suffering, then the glory.
This can change your perspective on what to expect from the Christian life, indeed, a church’s life. You saw it symbolized in your baptism. Perhaps you’ve seen it in your discipleship. Maybe you’ve seen it in the trials faced by your church. This is the pattern for God’s people: tears sowing joy; suffering producing glory.
How do we endure the time of tears? God’s saving work in the past assures us of His saving work in the future. The psalmist looks back in verses 1-3 to the joy of the nation’s return, which gives him confidence in verse 4 to say, “Restore our fortunes, LORD.” You too can look back on Christ’s work on the cross as well as specific moments of God’s faithfulness to you. Take out a pen and write down half a dozen such moments. Now think—will He not continue to show you His faithfulness in the future?
God’s people, following their Savior, know that “our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).
Pause and Reflect
• What did your baptism symbolize about your old way of life? What does your baptism teach you about the biblical pattern of suffering producing glory?
• How do you usually respond to suffering? How does Psalm 126 teach you to respond?