Sowing in Tears, Yet Harvesting Joy

Sowing in Tears, Yet Harvesting Joy

It is 2 AM and my eyes reluctantly open from their slumber. Years ago, I used to crawl out of bed at that hour to comfort my sleepless children. Now, it seems that I am the one in need of comfort.

There is just something about this season of obscurity and isolation that is completely unraveling me – month after month after tired month. Something that is exposing the lousy I try so hard to conceal with a gracious smile and the conventional utter of “I’m okay”. Something that is unearthing my deepest hurts and bitter disappointments and stripping me of all I once thought secure. Nineteen years into this overseas life and this one has been the most unsettling.

So I toss and turn. I stare at the ceiling. I gaze through the sliding glass doors to see the sliver of moonlight peeping in between the curtains. As fatigued as my body is, my mind keeps racing – resurrecting past regrets, reminding me of present trials, and cueing the entourage of future “what-if’s”. I know I need sleep, but the captivity of my anxious thoughts tell me that I need Jesus more.

I heed His beckoning me and quietly arise from my bed to pray, to talk to the One who knows no ambiguity. I often come to Him emptied, feeling as if I have nothing to offer. I sometimes come to Him at that early hour numb, in the waiting of unanswered prayers. But lately, I come to Him stilled, simply sowing in tears.

I declare it gut-honest aloud all alone in that living room – the words of Jehoshaphat – “I don’t know what to do, God, but my eyes are on You!”

Over and over, I repeat it.

I don’t know what to do, God. The presence of COVID has considerably altered the harvest of my job, but my eyes are on You.

I don’t know what to do, God.  So much that I have already sown into has been adversely affected this year, but my eyes are on You.

I don’t know what to do, God. My plans, my goals, my desires, this ministry that you have called us to have all been so distressingly set back, but my eyes are on You.

I don’t know what to do, God. I am discouraged and weary and feel so limited, but my eyes are on You.

Scripture tells us that the Jewish people in the book of Haggai were discouraged too. They had been so busy sowing into the building of their own homes that they had neglected to sow into the building of the Lord’s temple. Although the foundations of the temple had been laid nearly two decades earlier, they were now tasked to complete it. With few resources, they had little hope of constructing a temple as grand as Solomon’s. But the prophet came to give them this encouragement from the Lord –

  • To go ahead and work with what little they have.
  • To be strong, for the presence of God was with them.
  • And that they should not fear.

It was their wake-up call, reminding them that their first concern should be that of advancing the Kingdom of God, not their own interests. Indeed, the sowing may not have looked as they thought it would. But God had a different plan. He wasn’t concerned with how unpretentious the temple appeared, that it had no gold or silver. God was concerned with filling it with a greater grandeur than even the previous temple. He wanted to fill it with a different kind of earth-shaking, world changing glory – His.

Could this season of desolation be my wake-up call? Is He arousing me from my slumber to encourage me to be strong and not fear, to just go ahead and keep sowing into His Kingdom, despite my current limitations and not yet seeing the results? Will all of this modest sowing reap a greater glory of the One who knows how to make my after better than my before?

Yes. Yes. And yes!

I continue to pour out my heart to Him in the dark, in the middle of this muddied season. Though still somewhat disillusioned from the year, the weeping is not hindering the sowing.  On the contrary, the weeping is the sowing, and the sowing and the seeking are harvesting a different kind of immovable, unexplainable joy in me – His.

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5).

What is God harvesting in and through you during this ever-changing season of life? How can I come alongside you and pray for you?


  1. Cheryl Helphinstine October 30, 2020

    Thanks for sharing these readings continue your faith and prayers much encouragement and to let you know you’re not alone during these times

  2. Katie Rouse October 30, 2020

    I am no longer serving overseas, but these words hit home nonetheless. I have been in a job for all three years of being back that has drained me but has stayed steady and grown me. In the midst of so much upheaval, including my husband’s job stability, I feel God shifting me and blowing winds of change in this job that has sustained us this year. These words encourage me so to keep trusting and keep following the Lord wherever he leads.

  3. Sarah Hilkemann October 30, 2020

    Thank you for your honest words, Stephanie! The verse in Psalm 126 has been an incredible comfort to me in the tear-stained sowing seasons. I love your hope-filled reminder to keep sowing. 🙂

  4. Theresa November 19, 2020

    This recap of Haggai is excellent. Thanks for sharing your difficulties during this time… super relatable.

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