Let me start by saying that this is not an easy thing for me to write about. I have been thinking about writing on this topic since Thanksgiving, but I just haven't been able to. I just couldn't find the right words. Mostly, because I didn't know how to put all of my very jumbled thoughts into coherent paragraphs. I have never been the best writer especially when it comes to my thoughts and emotions.
However, this is something that God has been throwing at me for the last 3 weeks. Every time I think that I have escaped it, it comes at me again. Whether it is in a post on one of my favorite blogs, on the radio, in daily conversation, in the Thanksgiving sermon at my in-law's church, or in the sermon at my own church this morning. God keeps saying it to me in a not so small voice. I honestly can't ever remember feeling like God wants me to hear/learn something like I have this last month. I have been dodging it as much as possible because it is not something that I want to do. I have no desire to do it whatsoever. Hmmm, maybe that's why He has had to tell me so many times. You think? I kept thinking that it would go away… that it was just a fluke. Well, unfortunately, I don't think it was. In fact, I'm quite sure that it was not. So, here it goes. I hope you can follow all of this. I will do my best to make it make sense. It gets long, so stay with me.
It started with a post on Bring the Rain (she has since then taken the post down for many reasons). However, it basically said that most of the time Christians tend to say that we need to be thankful IN all situations. You know, find things to be thankful for no matter what we are going through. However, she went on to say that the Bible commands us to be thankful FOR all things. She did not say that this was easy. If you have never read Angie's blog, she lost her fourth daughter at birth due to many birth defects. So, she definitely did not find this easy. So, this began my thinking. Did God really say that I had to be thankful for Maggie's multiple heart deformities, her 2 and soon to be 3 open heart surgeries, and the pain that she has and will endure? Obviously, I did not like this. In fact, it had me upset for most of Thanksgiving weekend. Sure, I could be thankful for all of the miracles God has done in Maggie's life and for getting us through the storm and for the 20 months she has been in our lives. But, did I really have to tell Him that I was thankful for her broken heart? REALLY? So, I kind of put it in the back of my mind and didn't do much with it.
Then, we went to church with my in-laws the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Guess what the sermon was about? Yep, you got it: being thankful for everything. I sat there thinking, "you've got to be kidding me". He had many wonderful points and all of it was scripturally accurate (I don't have time to go into all of his points). However, He gave one verse that I have heard many times before, but this time it really hit home. Phillipians 4:6-7 says Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Being thankful for all things brings peace to your life… God's peace. Wow! When I am thankful for the things that bring me the most pain, God gives me peace. Okay, so this got me thinking a little bit, but I still stuck it in the back of my head. I was still not willing to to tell Him"thank-you".
Fast forward, a couple weeks to today. Today, at church we lit the third advent candle which is a candle of joy. Okay, no big deal. Right? I've dodged it again, right? Nope. So, very wrong. However, God said it in a completely different way. Today's sermon title was, "Those Who Sow in Tears". The text was taken from Psalm 126. The psalmist talks about when the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion. Our pastor talked about how we can sometimes feel like we, ourselves are in exile. In times of crisis we feel alone, hopeless, and completely void of all joy. However, God will at a determined time (determined by Him, not us) return to us the joy that was taken away. Tears will give way to joy. He knows exactly when and how.
The verse that I came away with was, Psalm 126:5-6, Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Hmmm. Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. What does this mean. This verse does NOT mean that those who suffer most will be the most joyful. It means that WHAT you sow WITH your life during times of exile will lead to joy. So, I think what this means is that our times of sorrow do not give us a free pass to stop living for the Lord. He wants us to use our tears for Him. Use our crisis, to reach others.
Every day, we are to light the candle of joy in our lives. Again, this is not something that I want to do every day. Somedays, I want to feel sorry for myself and for Maggie. I want to know "why" right now and I want it all to go away. However, God has not chosen to do this yet. He has not even chosen to take my tears away. Right now, He wants me to sow in my tears. My reaping will come later.