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My friend Melanie recently published a blogpost based upon Psalm 126:5-6, which reads,
5 Those who walk the fields to sow, casting their seed in tears,
will one day tread those same long rows, amazed by what’s appeared.
6 Those who weep as they walk and plant with sighs Will return singing with joy, when they bring home the harvest.
In brief, it’s an important discussion about choosing to cling to God in obedient faith instead of the temporal things of this world (including those we love). Follow the link below to read this short post about costly obedience.
Costly Obedience | The Life I Didn’t Choose
Psalm 126:5-6 has long been a verse dear to my heart. It was a promise I could cling to after Cole’s death. I inscribed it across the bottom of every birth announcement mailed when Bethany Joy arrived 17 months after her brother was stillborn. She was the literal manifestation of the harvest from my promise keeping heavenly Father, but . . . and this is important. . .
really important. . .
the joyful harvest was never dependent upon her survival.
Before she was ever born I understood, I was painfully aware in fact, and very very fearful, that the harvest greeted with joyful singing might only occur in Heaven. I believe that one day Cole will be a part of my long awaited harvest. I believed that then and I believe it now.
They that sow in tears will reap in joy (KJV) was the mantra that circulated though my mind throughout the duration my pregnancy. Others were quick to tell me that everything would be okay this time . . . which frustrated me beyond belief.
To speak your fear out loud, to have it validated as a legitimate concern, loosens fear’s suffocating grip because you are no longer the only steward of truth.
Two things allow fear to grow, isolated silence, and flippant dismissal.
What I needed was someone to acknowledge the truth that while it was unlikely that I would lose another child, there were no guarantees that I would not leave the hospital empty handed once more. Over the course of three subsequent pregnancies, I never again counted my chickens before they hatched. There was always a part of my heart held in reserve – the part where naïveté was replaced with frank reality.
There were other verses that competed for my attention among the cacophony of swirling thoughts and fears during my pregnancy. One of significance was Psalm 127:3 – specifically the King James Version. The Bible translation in this instance is important because different versions appear to communicate different things. Check out the versions below and see if you agree:
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” King James Version
“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” New Living Translation
Twenty-five years ago I wasn’t spending much time comparing Bible translations. Instead I meditated upon scripture as it was presented in my personal study Bible. I struggled to understand exactly what it meant to be “an heritage of the LORD.” But the last half of the verse impacted me most. I meditated on the King James translation and understood it literally as it was written . . .”the fruit of the womb is HIS reward”, not “[children] are a reward FROM Him.” Such a small but significant difference. I interpreted that phrase to mean that my children were literally His prize. And when you consider that in relation to Colossians 1:16b, it makes perfect sense:
“. . . all things were created by him, and for him:” (KJV)
He created Cole, Bethany, Katie, Gracen, David (my husband) and me for Himself.
The NLT version of Psalms 127:3, it tells me that my children were created by Him as a gift to me – a reward for something I’ve done.
Maybe both translations are correct (although it’s hard to understand how one earns the reward of parenthood). Many times I have found that scripture has a broader meaning than I initially was able to comprehend. Regardless, I approached Bethany’s birth with fear and trepidation reminding myself that the fruit of the womb is His reward, not mine. Who’s to say if my rejoicing would take place this side of heaven? God knows there are plenty of parents who have planted their seed, their children, back into the soil beneath their feet and are anxiously and sorrowfully enduring the wait for the harvest of our eternal souls.
I don’t know about anyone else but I am so very weary of sowing in tears. Recent events in our country lead me to believe that I am not the only one who feels this way.
As Melanie’s post makes clear, we can either cling to the things of this world or to God in faithful obedience.
I don’t think I am clinging tightly to my loved ones anymore. I think the futility of that practice has sunken deep into the very marrow of my bones. My palm is open, primarily because grasping to hold onto that which can so easily be snatched from it, is as exhausting as it is futile.
But . . . I’m not quite sure that I am clinging to Jesus either.
It “feels” as if I am clinging to His promises more than to the promise keeping Savior, Himself.
The nuance nags at me.
I can’t decide if I’m splitting hairs or if, in fact, at least one more scary and deeply painful trip through the Refiner’s fire will be required in order to strip away every last thing I might latch onto in place of God Himself.
Am I living in obedience or desperately grasping for anything . . . anything . . . that makes me “feel” better instead of actually getting better?
Promises make me feel better.
The Savior . . . well it’s complicated.
It’s easier, less painful, to anchor myself to His promises instead of to the God who allowed the deep wounds in the first place.
I know that God is the guarantor of every promise.
I know that the Holy Spirit serves as the earnest deposit securing my soul.
I know I can have confidence in His promises because of who God is, but I’m not confident that clinging to His promises is the same as clinging to Him.
In fact, I think they are two distinctly different things.
Has my heart rejected Christ in favor of His promises because I associate Him with the deep wounds that have been inflicted upon my heart?
Do I subconsciously blame God for the events that took my children from me and for the progressive disease that is systematically destroying Gracen’s body, instead of blaming the Devil, my true adversary and the author of lies who relentlessly seeks whom he might destroy?
Truthfully, the idea that I blame God for Satan’s actions doesn’t feel accurate.
I honestly believe (know to be true) that sin and Satan and the fall of man are to blame for all my suffering, but it’s harder to determine if I harbor animosity and resentment toward my Savior for choosing not to intervene and thwart the plans of the enemy.
I don’t want to look too closely.
I don’t want to examine my heart!
Yet the questions beg an answer.
Am I resentfully resigned to the sovereignty of God?
Am I clinging to animosity instead of acceptance?
And then I ponder . . .
Are resignation and acceptance the same thing? Does it matter?
Both recognize that there are things beyond our control but resignation is perceived in a negative light, as a defeatist attitude, because of its association with quitting or giving up a job, for example. (Not that leaving a job is a negative experience, just that “I resign” can be stated just as accurately as, “I quit”). On the other hand, acceptance is perceived in a more favorable light because we associate it with positive things. We accept a gift or a job. It carries a connotation of approval. We accept an individual into our circle of friends.
Research tells me that both resignation and acceptance are synonyms for acquiescence (reluctant agreement). In my opinion, a good definition for resignation is unresisting submission or acquiescence whereas acceptance is well defined as willing tolerance without approval.
I really don’t think God cares whether we accept or resign ourselves to His plans. I think He’s more concerned about the attitude with which we do either. Of the questions above, resentment and animosity matter more to God than resignation or acceptance.
Still these questions swirl around inside, and I find myself reminded that the heart is deceitfully wicked, that no one other than God knows and understands it. (Jeremiah 17:9)
So, It’s not surprising that I can’t unequivocally answer those questions.
I can’t resolve the confusion in my heart over clinging to God’s promises or clinging to God Himself, or even correctly discerning my feelings toward God as a result of the circumstances in my life. It’s not that I want to ignore those issues because I think they are important. But, my introspective nature has led me to decide that the confusion is irrelevant because I know that the Refiner of Silver, Almighty God, will not allow ugly impurities to hide unacknowledged, even in minuscule quantities, within the silver of my soul. The God who created and loves me is never satisfied with anything less than what’s best for me. He takes me places I have no desire to go, even if I sow in tears every step of the way – for my eternal good.
Always and only for my eternal good.
And when God works in your life, His goals are the same as they are for mine. They may play out through very different circumstances, but whatever He allows to transpire in your life, even if those things result in tears, will always and only be for your eternal good.
For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6 Berean Study Bible
The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8 New American Standard Bible
He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 Berean Study Bible
We are all the fruit of the womb. God, Himself, sowed in tears when He sent His son to the cross. Everything that is for our eternal good increases the harvest – the labor of God’s heart and hands – you and I are God’s reward.
We are the harvest of tears.
By the way, in regards to resignation or acceptance – acceptance may sound more positive but I’d rather respond to God in unresisting submission and acquiescence than I would in willing tolerance without approval. That’s just the rebellious way I roll!