I heard an old man tell the story of when he was a young man. He remembers coming back to his village in Eastern Europe after an army of invaders destroyed property and took sacks of wheat for themselves. They had a few precious hidden sacks left, but not enough to feed themselves and plant a crop for the next year without great hardship.
“We cried over every seed we sowed,” he said. “What if the crop failed? What if the soldiers came back? Would the sacrifice be worth it?”
When this same ethnic group came to Canada they were in the habit of sacrificing their own comfort to invest in the future of their children. They had learned to sow in faith. Sometimes they sowed financially and gave money to care for others when it hurt to do so. Sometimes they stood up for honesty and doing the right thing when it was not to their immediate advantage. Sometimes they chose to plant kindness when they were misunderstood and thrown into the category of enemy by new neighbours who assumed if they spoke the same language as Hitler they must be Nazis. (Meanwhile, in the Old Country Hitler’s troops were killing their former friends and neighbours.)
I don’t know that I could have continued to be kind under such circumstances. Certainly not everyone in that community did, but some pressed on. When elderly friends told me about being harassed as children during the second world war they recalled the advice, “Turn and walk away. They do not yet know who you are. Don’t let them push you into becoming who they think you are.”
This week I have been thinking about the scripture, “They who sow in tears will reap in joy.” I have a new understanding of the verse. The tears are not about weeping over the pain a situation causes. The tears are about the personal struggle to take that tiny bit of love and kindness I have and be willing to bury it in the dirt where it will not be seen or appreciated and may not grow the way I plan. The tears are about denying my “rights,” choosing to not take the easy short-sighted way but rather to have faith that in the long-term God will raise up something greater. A harvest of love. A storehouse filled by righteousness and kindness.
Can I admit that I find it much easier to defend myself with a sharp defensive retort than a determination to go about quietly doing what I believe God has shown me is right? When I’m judged, and condemned, and tarred with the same brush as “them” on the “them and us” scale I long to be understood by people who have no intention of listening. That’s when I want to harden my heart, give them a name (usually ending with “ist”), and write them out of my life.
Today I hear the wisdom of those who have suffered much worse than a few insults, and who developed character that demonstrated the ability to forgive and to show love. If I know who I am in Christ I will not need the approval of loud people with microphones or Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Don’t let anyone push you into becoming what they accuse you of being. Sow with a view to righteousness. Reap with kindness.
I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,
for now is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come
and shower righteousness upon you.’
(Hosea 10:12 NLT)
6 thoughts on “Reaping in Joy”
These lines, especially, speak to me: “I long to be understood by people who have no intention of listening. That’s when I want to harden my heart, give them a name (usually ending with “ist”), and write them out of my life.” First, I too often seek human, instead of divine, approval, and second, my natural inclination is to be quiet rather than to do the difficult work of tackling conflict head on.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I hear you. I do both – after listening to their points (and seriously considering if I might be off) I tend talk too much when no one is listening and then I withdraw. Some people call it “taking offense.” I call it quitting bashing my head against a wall (seeking human approval) and instead seek the Lord and choose to love from a distance when it appears my efforts at reconciliation just make things worse.
That’s on good days. On bad days… you don’t want to know. Thank God he is willing to love me even on the bad days but he’s not a rewarder of foolishness.
Charis, I could relate to your post. So often I look to the present to get my rewards. However, I’m glad it is not a popularity contest with God. It has been a time of sowing seeds with tears for me. My goal is to trust God for the increase but putting it into practice is more difficult. Living one day at a time is so much better!
I watched someone who had an antagonistic boss. The employee quietly sowed those seeds for over 20 years. It appeared nothing was happening, then one day, while on the other side of the world, the boss met Jesus’ love in a way he could not resist. He came back a changed man. I asked the worker how he acted kindly and prayed faithfully for so long without any sign of reward. He said, “One day at a time.” I think if we know the timeline we might become discouraged, and God in his mercy keeps saying “soon” so we can put it into practice one day at a time, because that’s the only seed we have to plant at the moment. The next morning we receive one more to invest.
By the way, you are very popular with God. He absolutely adores you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
That is very encouraging testimony! Charis, thank you 😊 for relaying God’s message for me. Abundant blessings of healing to you!
Thank you, Hazel.
LikeLiked by 1 person