Earlier this month, Philadelphia was hit by the polar vortex, and we experienced negative degrees and sharp wind chills. Just a few days later, when temperatures went up to the mid-60s, people were noticeably more joyful as they walked outside without their coats, acting as if spring had arrived. The bitter chill of prior days enhanced the pleasure of warmer weather and bright sunshine. Often it’s the absence of something that brings delight upon its arrival.
Psalm 126 highlights an even more profound experience of delight. It is a song of redemption, one that paints a picture of sorrow turned to praise. After years of hardship, Israel’s restoration had finally come!
The last verse of the Psalm reads: “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” But what does it mean to bear seed for sowing while weeping? How do we plant seeds of joy in times of hardship?
We plant seeds of joy by suffering with our faces turned toward God. As David Powlison says in his book, God’s Grace in Your Suffering, “Faith’s enduring and alert dependency on the Lord is one of the Spirit’s finest fruits. And you bear that fruit only when you have lived through something hard.” Even more, we are called to set our gaze beyond “momentary troubles” here to the ultimate redemption of “an eternal glory” coming in heaven (2 Cor 4:17). Sowing while weeping leads to praising while reaping.
At CCEF, we believe and have experienced the relevance of Scripture and the hope of Jesus in every season, particularly in times of struggle. As David recently shared, “The more precarious life is, the more pertinent all that Christ is, does, and says.” Pray that we would encourage people who are suffering to do so honestly and hopefully. Because we know that someday, we will confidently look back and say, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad” (Ps 126:3).”
Lord, let us be people who suffer with our faces turned toward you. Help us to sow while we weep in anticipation of the joy-filled reaping to come. Show us how to encourage others who are suffering to do so honestly and hopefully. Help us to “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
The Lord blessed CCEF financially in 2018, and we desire to share that gift with the men and women we serve. On February 1, Counseling Ministries initiated a drop in our base counseling rate by $5.00 per hour. This is the first time we have been able to reduce our rate in many years!
Lord, thank you for providing financially for CCEF and for those who receive counsel. We praise you for reduced counseling rates and greater accessibility to wise and biblical counsel. We trust you to continue to provide for our needs and even to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).
P.S. You have likely heard about David Powlison’s recent health diagnosis. We appreciate your prayers for him, Nan, and the Powlison family during this time. For more information and updates on David’s progress, please visit ccef.org/powlisonupdates.