"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them." Psalm 126:5-6
For a small-town girl growing up in East Texas, I knew surprisingly little about the ins and outs of agriculture. I never even tended a garden until high school, when an elderly man at my church named Brother John decided that the youth group should learn how to raise crops. He walked us through the process of tilling the land, breaking up dirt clods and lining up rows. Our hands would scream as blisters emerged, and our bellies would complain with the rumbles of lunch time, but he continued to have us trudging through the damp soil, dirtying our jeans and inhaling the early afternoon mugginess. When finally our toil seemed complete, it would be time to grab handfuls of seed and specifically place them in their own individual spots, far enough apart to have room to grow. After that, we would cover them up and pray for rain to nourish them.
Jesus taught so often on the process of sowing and reaping, using words like soil, harvest, and seeds. Our American culture today is largely uninvolved in farming; however, it doesn’t take years of membership in Future Farmers of America to know two vitals of farming: planting seeds and nourishing them with the right stuff.
As Disciples of Christ, we are called to be ministers to the broken and shepherds to the lost. Whether your context is an office environment, a classroom, the streets of our city, or our church, we are called to love those around us, and constantly be sowing the seeds of the Gospel into them. The question is, how do we do that?
Psalms 126:5-6 challenges us that in order to see the abundant harvest, we must sow in tears. The place where we must begin in ministering to those around us is to be broken for them. However, our culture has grown so calloused to the pain of others that we don’t even realize that we should bear each other’s burdens.
To see how to bear the burdens of others, we can look to Christ. In John 11, Jesus receives news that his dear friend Lazarus is dead and he weeps with Lazarus’s sisters Mary and Martha. He has had a history of spending time with them, and therefore lingers with them in their brokenness. This moves the Savior of the world to tears. He is fully aware that he will soon call Lazarus out of the grave and restore him to life, but he empathizes for those around him and bears their pain alongside them.
When we are fully invested in the lives around us, when we know their diverse backgrounds, when we understand their world, when we burden ourselves with their hurts, we begin to hurt for them. We pick up part of their burden, and when we have that added weight, we can do nothing but cry out to God for His help in carrying it. This makes us co-laborers in prayer with those we minister to.
Proverbs 10: 5 says “A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace” NLT. The millennial generation is notorious for being a lazy, self-absorbed, quick-fix generation. We tend to look for what is most fun or what works now rather than what has the best long-term results. This results in an inactivity of laboring with Jesus in the lives of others. However, the Bible calls this foolishness. A young, unmarried person has more time and energy than he or she will likely ever have, and the passion that person is capable of can fuel great fires.
So what if we stopped the never-ending cycle of snapping pictures, scrolling, and swiping? What if we lifted our eyes from the screen and met the gaze of someone falling apart before us? What if we took the time to get to know them, invest in them, walk through life with them? What if we went further and wept with them when their situation looks hopeless, waited with them for God to deliver and restore?
I’d venture to say the harvest would be plentiful, and when God ordains, we would be carrying the abundant sheaves to the table.