we considered times when God fills our life
with such joy, that we feel like we are “dreaming.”
In Psalm 126, the Israelites are looking back to those times, to that “reservoir” of remembrance,
for now they are in the desert of suffering.
This is a psalm we’ve studied before, and some of this will be review, but oh, a review we constantly need, for this life is full of trouble.
We constantly need to remember, as the hymn we will hear this week says, “earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”
“he who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing,
will return with shouts of joy, bringing sheaves with him.”
Notice it doesn’t just say “he who goes out weeping,” but rather,
“he who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing...”
What is this seed for sowing?
In one of my top favorite Keller sermon’s this week,
he explains how we must learn to “pray our tears.”
We must not stuff our tears or vent our tears but sow our tears.
He will explain, but we have a living testimony of this right within our blog fellowship.
I met our dear Chris on this blog,
shortly after her wonderful son Daniel had been murdered.
I have watched her process her sorrow and pray her tears.
Chris went out weeping, bearing seed for sowing.
And God has done, a continues to do, a work in her.
I’ve watched this so many times, but I see something new each time,
so even if you have watched before, watch this short clip:
This week is also the week my husband went to be with the Lord. I have thought so often of how, near the end, he asked me to pray prayers I didn’t want to pray, because I was still holding onto hope for healing. He asked me to pray that he would die a “good death,” that no matter how bad it got, he would glorify God to the end. He asked that I would pray God would be a father to the fatherless. He asked to pray that we would not back up from God.
I didn’t want to pray those prayers, but I did, in honor of my husband. And I’m so glad I did — for we have seen the fruit of those prayers. Those were prayers of sacrifice that yielded an amazing crop, including, a death the glorified God and brought many to Him, godly father-in-laws to be fathers to our daughters, and, as a surprising bonus, six years later, four baby girls, who have indeed, filled our mouths with laughter. Sally was the first, who after years of infertility, conceived, and found out on the 5th anniversary of Steve’s death. (This is too much to be coincidence.) God had mercy, and indeed, no one backed up from Him, but pressed in.
Likewise, I have seen so many of you “sow your tears,” refusing to back up from God in your time of suffering, and I see beautiful women of God here.
In commenting on Psalm 126, particularly the line that says “He who goes out weeping, bearing seed for sowing,” Dr. Ellen F Davis, Professor of Bible at Yale Divinity School, said:
I didn’t really understand for many years why someone would go out weeping to sow the seed in their field until I began working with the African Christians who have to make a choice between eating the grain now and giving it to their hungry children or planting it in the field so there will be something to eat next year.
We will ponder what this means.
1. What stands out to you and why?
2. Keep building up your reservoir — what was life-giving to you this last week and why? (You did wonderfully last week — would love you to keep up with your gratitude.)
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
Prepare your heart with this:
3. In the Keller sermon this week, before he turns his attention to Psalm 126, he quotes Psalm 39:12-13. What does this say? Describe the honesty of the psalmist in his lament.
4. What does it mean to you, as Derek Kidner said, that “God knows how men speak when they are desperate?”
5. Why does God know what it feels like to be desperate?
6. Keller says we must not stuff our tears (like the religious) or vent our tears (like the world) but sow our tears. Let us ponder:
A. God doesn’t want us to stuff our tears because He hates dishonesty — it keeps us from having a real relationship with Him. Give an example from either the gospels or Acts that shows how God either hates dishonesty or loves honesty.
B. God doesn’t want us just venting our tears, running around complaining. Paul Tripp says that complaining is self-centered and praise is God centered. Here’s a challenge (and this is going to be a CHALLENGE): Put a guard over your heart against complaining today. Report back tonight.
C. God wants us to “sow” our tears. Reflect on the Ellen Davis quote, on the testimonies you’ve heard, and the psalms of lament and explain what this means.
7. Read Psalm 126
The Israelites are in a time of great sorrow (we don’t know what, but it doesn’t seem to be as a result of sin), but they do a number of things to “sow their tears.” Find them in the follow verses:
1) Psalm 126:1-3
2) Psalm 126:4
3) Psalm 126:5-6
8. If you are going through deep sorrow right now, follow the pattern of the lament:
A. Tell God the truth about how you feel
B. Be still and know that He is God, looking to the cross.
C. Resolve, if you can, to trust Him.
9. Share your notes and comments.
10. What is your take-a-way and why? (And how did you do with not complaining?)