“Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. A man may go out weeping, carrying his bag of seed; but he will come back with songs of joy, carrying home his sheaves.” (Psalm 126:5-6 NEB)
There is an undeniable aspect of Christianity that involves sorrow. Indeed, the central figure of the Christian faith is “the man of sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3) He is also the One who said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh… Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.” (Luke 6:21, 25)
Jesus brings out a very important element to this spiritual dynamic with the words “now” and “shall.” “Now” clearly refers to the “here and now” of earth life. In keeping with His normal way of speaking, Jesus offers only a fearful black-and-white contrast.
On the one hand there are those whose primary focus during their time on earth is the temporal enjoyment that appeals to one’s lower nature. They are forever searching out new forms of entertainment and sources of pleasure that will distract them from their spiritual responsibilities. Yes, there is laughter, but it is the superficial type—the kind of mirth that wells up from an empty heart and can offer no more than a momentary reprieve. Such superficial activities are ever pushing them down a road toward that horrible world of woe.
But Jesus also pronounces a blessing—an invocation of eternal prosperity—on those who are forced to endure hardship for His sake during their stay on earth. One day they will enter that wonderful world of joy where one’s inner exuberance will be constantly bubbling up in the kind of jubilant laughter that comes from a full heart.
There is no question that the Christian life is full of various kinds of sorrow. Godly evangelists weep over lost souls. Godly pastors grieve over people they have poured their lives into who respond with hatred. Godly missionaries quietly suffer when the people they are called to minister to use them for self-serving purposes. Godly deans of Bible schools live with the distress of seeing students they love making one bad decision after another. Godly wives mourn over wayward husbands, while godly parents long to see their prodigals return home. This is all part of the price of truly caring about the eternal plight of other people.
Yet, every type of suffering we are called to endure on earth will be enormously repaid in glory. The very scars we carry from our sufferings will become our crowns in heaven. In the same way that soldiers are honored for their deeds of heroism on the battlefield, so too will earnest believers be honored for what they suffered for Christ’s sake during their time on earth. Yes, now is often a time of weeping, but then shall be a time of laughter!
And how about you? Are you living for the enjoyment of the day or are you bearing the burden of hurting souls? Do you live with a temporal or an eternal mindset?