After losing my dad, I received a very generous gift from some of my friends. It was a kit for an oak tree. Not a fully formed tree, but the seeds to grow one in my father’s memory.
When I first saw the package, I was so moved by the thoughtfulness, but I wasn’t ready to plant in this sad state of mind. So I stowed it away in my fridge per the instructions to keep it fresh while I gave myself a little more time.
After a few weeks, I was ready to take the step and plant the seeds, to see what could grow from this grief.
I remember thinking about what a contrast this would be to the painful loss I was feeling. What could grow from this seed? What could grow from this grief?
But, this brought to mind a verse from the Psalms, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5).
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I was certainly sowing in a soil of sadness. My hope was withered and my heart was weary. And yet, the Psalmist is speaking into this pain with an important message for every broken heart.
It’s OK for the tears to soak into this soil, into this season.
It’s OK to plant and water and nurture growth in a season when you are facing upheaval and desolation and loss.
The verse doesn’t say that those who sow in tears may potentially reap with rejoicing. It says they will reap with songs of joy. This means that even when we don’t see the growth or even when we feel far from hope and blooming, in time, we will see it. It’s a promise, a life-line, a hope-filled reminder.
In the meantime, we faithfully watch, wait, and welcome what this season shares with us. We faithfully water and nurture this time, even when we don’t understand what’s happening beyond what our eyes can see. We faithfully wait and stay rooted in God’s truths during the moments we feel impatient with the process or uncertain what the purpose is. And, we welcome what the Lord has for us here, right in the pain, right in the dirt. In this plant slowly budding, in our hearts slowly healing.
For the first couple of weeks, I would look at the planter and only see dirt. Darkness.
And every time, I would have to decide if what I was seeing was the whole story or if God was doing something bigger underneath the surface.
Each day was an opportunity to say, “I don’t see what you are doing or understand it, but I’ll trust you. I’ll sow in this sadness, in this uncertainty, even when I don’t see what’s underneath it all. I’ll sow in my heart too, to remind myself to fully depend upon and trust in you even when I don’t see the purpose of what you’ve planted.”
And each day, when I looked at myself, I’d have similar thoughts: I don’t see any growth here. There’s nothing blooming in me. And each day, I had the opportunity to water my heart and soul with the living water of a caring and compassionate Heavenly Father.
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Our lives require bold faith and surrender. Our days offer us a million little chances to choose faith over fear and to choose trust over control. The process is painful, but it is not without purpose. The grief is painful, but it is not without grace.
Fast forward a few weeks, and my heart leaped for joy at what my eyes got to see: green. Growth. Life. Not only in this tree, but in me. Hope, not only for this blooming plant, but also for me.
So, when you’re in the dirt of despair and it’s all you can see, allow your faith to draw you in deeper, to water and tend to the growth you’ve not yet experienced, and to rest in the trust and faith that you too will reap with songs of joy.