I will risk sounding like a broken record by saying we as a family are in a season of suffering. Because of Sarah’s absence pretty much everything we do brings a staggering sting of pain with it. In addition there are some other unresolved issues surrounding her death that have proven to be extremely painful as well. Only days after Sarah’s departure I found myself regularly saying both to myself and our girls, “just do the next right thing.” It became a mantra of sorts that persists to this day, a basic plan of survival in the midst of the crippling trauma. Seek the Lord, determine the next right thing and do it. Not too far in I began quoting 1 Peter 4:19 along with the mantra, recognizing that each choice to do the next right thing, particularly the painful right things, was an act of worship and obedience to my faithful Creator.
“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” 1 Peter 4:19 [NASB]
Last Monday night brought with it the realization of a painful challenge we knew was a looming possibility. Our wounded hearts ache all the more now as what was a very disappointing possibility the day before has become a painful reality we must deal with. That night my weary flesh wanted to give up and run away, wave a white flag and cry defeat, I was too tired and the next right thing was too much, but then I sat down and began reading Sarah’s journals. She reminded me “there is a reason to keep pressing on and doing good when people even hate you for it” and that in the end “it will be completely and totally worth it.” Tuesday morning I included that entry (below) in the post, The Little Cricket Martyr. I included it because what she wrote reflected her faith and heart for perseverance in spite of potential opposition, which went well with the topic. There were a few other entries I read the night before that I thought about using, but at the last minute felt led to go with this one instead. It wasn’t until after I published it, though, that I went back and meditated on the passages of scripture she had referenced in it. I started by reading Psalms 125-128, what a blessing each verse was for me, but when I came to Psalm 126:5-6, I was moved to tears. I immediately knew the Lord had prompted me to include this specific journal entry because I desperately needed the blessing of this particular passage.
“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.” Psalm 126:5-6 [NASB]
As we continue to plod through this long dark valley I realize now I was wrongly beginning to view my persistent flow of tears as failure in some way, starting to entertain the lie that perhaps it meant I was no longer trudging on in pursuit of my Lord. As I read this passage, though, I was flooded with the reassurance and comfort of His truth. I weep, I weep because my heart is shattered, I weep because my husband’s heart is shattered, I weep over my children’s pain, I weep over our parents’ pain, I weep over sinful circumstances beyond my control, I go “to and fro weeping.” If I stop there, if I only weep and no longer sow, If I no longer “carry my bag of seed,” if I no longer do the next right thing that would be the failure, that would be sin. Oh how I praise God for His Word of encouragement that He sees our tears as we continue to sow, that He sees us obediently carrying and scattering our “bag of seed” through the pain, and He assures us a harvest of joy is coming. As we persevere in doing the next right thing, in sowing through our tears we are promised to “reap with joyful shouting.”
I was blessed beyond measure as I studied Psalm 126, looking at context, original language and reading commentaries. After I finished studying Psalm 126, I went on to read the other passages she shared, 2 Corinthians 13 and Acts 11:19-26, each a blessing and encouragement. But it wasn’t until I finally read further down in her journal entry that I realized that my sweet Sarah had been so struck by the exact same two verses, Psalm 126:5-6, that she listed them out separately, what a treasure. I was so full to overflowing with encouragement that I immediately called Scott at work to share all The Lord had shown me. If you are in the valley with us, take heart and cling to this hope with us. We will see a mighty harvest and rejoice all the more over the fruit of the precious seed we have sown through tears and weeping. May we never put down our bags of seed, though tears readily flow and weeping persists may we continually persevere in spreading seed. May we continually trudge forward in obedience as we entrust our suffering souls to our faithful Creator in doing the next right thing and making Him known.
Artwork: Sarah Harmening