Believers in Jesus shed tears. Sad things happen in this life.
When we are young we have hopes and dreams of how things will be later. Then a child goes astray. Or somebody gets Alzheimer’s. I don’t have to give too many illustrations because if you’ve lived long enough you know what I’m talking about.
Now I’m not a negative person. I believe God has all kinds of blessings he waits to pour out on his people. As he tells us in PS 31:
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (19)
I try to remind myself of this promise regularly and thank God that he has abundant blessings stored up for me. But life is hard. And believers go through all kinds of hard times. As Scripture says:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds (JA 1:2)
And Peter tells us we shouldn’t be shocked when we suffer:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 PE 4:12)
Afflictions and trials can have a dampening effect on our lives if we aren’t careful. We can be tempted to think our prayers are powerless.
We can be tempted to think our good deeds are meaningless. We can be tempted to think “What’s the point?” Why do I keep asking? Nothing is happening.
At times I have felt like my prayers get about as far as my ceiling, then bounce off and slowly sink back to the floor. When I’m praying in the morning and I’m tired and still waking up, my prayers feel about as powerful as a gnat buzzing in the room. But James tells us:
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (JA 5.16).
“Great power” – not just a little bit of power, but great power. I don’t usually feel that great power. But if God says it, I believe it. So whether I feel like my prayers are powerful or not, I believe they are because God says they are.
So when we are suffering, we need to keep praying in faith. Faith not in our own power, but faith in God’s power:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (HEB 11:6).
This is what keeps us going and praying in hard times: believing that God rewards those who seek him. The timing of when he rewards us is up to the Lord in his wisdom and sovereignty. But he will reward us for every single prayer. He will answer every single one, either in this life or the next. But not a single prayer is wasted. Not a single seed we plant will fail to grow and blossom.
Jesus tells us to keep asking our heavenly Father for good things:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (MT 7:7-11)
Most earthly fathers would give their children food if they asked. If a child asked his dad for a piece of bread, would he go out in the yard and bring in a stone? Of course not! God has built into human fathers the desire to bless their children. And Jesus tells us “How much more” does our heavenly Father desire to bless his children if we ask him.
So God tells us to keep asking him for whatever we need, even in hard times, even “in tears.”
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)
God tells us to keep sowing. Keep sowing through the tears. Keep sowing through the sadness. Keep sowing through the pain.
God tells us in Galatians not to grow weary of sowing. Not to give up:
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. GA 6:7-10
Did you catch that? “In due season we WILL reap – IF – we do not give up.” God doesn’t tell us to sow in vain. He tells us we will reap in “due season” – which he knows – if we keep on sowing.
So don’t grow weary of doing good. Don’t grow weary of praying. Don’t give up, even if you don’t see results. Keep sowing to the kingdom. Keep praying. Keep planting good deeds. Keep serving others. Sometimes in the midst of sadness it feels like God can’t possibly hear our prayers. Sometimes we sow for years yet don’t see any results. We feel like giving up. But God tells us that if we keep sowing – even as tears run down our cheeks – that someday we will reap.
Our prayers will often feel so small. Our efforts feel so minute and unimpressive. Right! They are! But they contain life and power that will expand beyond anything we can fathom. Seeds are tiny. Unimpressive. Have you ever looked at an acorn? They aren’t very impressive. Imagine if you had never seen a tree of any kind and someone encouraged you to plant that little oak seed. You could not possibly imagine the glorious tree with all the branches and leaves that would someday result.
Someday will exchange our tears for shouts of joy.
If we don’t give up, if we keep sowing even through the tears, then someday our arms will be full of sheaves from the harvest.
And our sheaves will be a whole a lot larger than the seeds we sowed and so much greater than the tears we cried. Our prayers that we can barely whisper in our sadness will blossom into glorious fruit.
So don’t stop praying for your wandering child. Don’t stop asking God to help your feeble church. Don’t stop asking God to give you love for that difficult person. Don’t stop praying for your struggling marriage. Don’t stop giving to the church and the poor even though you can barely spare any to give. Keep sowing, though your seeds be soaked with tears. Not one single prayer is in vain.