Psalm 126: 4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb. 5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
What a great passage. According to my bible resources the Negeb is the dry desert region in the southern portion of Israel. The waterways of the Negeb would usually be void of water and life. But every once in a while a flash flood would fall and the waterways would be transformed into an oasis of green vegetation.
In our passage above there’s the image of a nation pouring forth a river of tears as they grieve the loss of their homeland. For 70 years they were in captivity away from Israel. Most of the adults who left Israel as captives died before the people were allowed to return to Israel. Yet the Lord restored his people and established them in the holy city of Jerusalem once more. Hence, rivers of sorrow became rivers of joy!
The other day I was speaking to a family member whose husband passed away less than a year ago. As you would expect of someone married for over 40 years, the loss of her spouse has been hard for her. The first several times I saw her after the funeral she was in tears very quickly. The grief and loss were hard to bear. What would life be like without her husband? Mostly I would just listen to her process her grief.
I saw her again a few weeks ago and there was a marked change in her. She’s obviously still grieving, but she smiled a lot more. She laughed as we shared stories of days gone by. Perhaps in the not too distant future she will be able to both remember her late husband and explore the possibilities of a new reality without him. I know that’s what her husband would have wanted. So does she. But it’s really hard right now.
Part of life is suffering. Tears. But there is a promise in the psalm today. We may be sowing tears of sorrow now, but the day is coming when we shall reap tears of joy. It may not be in this life, but joy is coming eventually. Lord let it be so. Amen.