By Dick Koehneke
When I was a child, my parents had a German saying they said to us children when our playing started to get a little too rough. The English translation is, “After the laughing comes the crying.” The saying proved true all too often!
The message of Easter is just the opposite: “After the crying comes the laughing.” God’s Word says: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)
Notice the words “tears” and “weeping” — not just frowning and scowling, but tears and weeping. This is profound sorrow — deep sadness — the real thing. Not just a rough patch or a bad day, but times of tragedy and catastrophe. God’s Word does not avoid the subject of pain and sadness, because pain and sadness are unavoidable in life.
But notice also the words “songs of joy.” Not just a smile or a happy face — not whispers of gladness, but songs of joy — real, exuberant, outrageous joy, pleasure and delight! The psalm does not say, “He will return empty handed.” It says he will return “carrying sheaves with him” — not just a stalk or two, but whole bundles of grain, as much as you can carry! The harvest has come!
When does the joyful harvest happen? It happens “after the crying.” There is sadness in this fallen world. Sorrow is a recurring and sometimes ongoing aspect of the sinful human condition. Followers of Jesus are not insulated from suffering. This is a sinful, wicked world, and we are smack dab in the middle of it. When the whole picture is painted, when the whole story is told, when the clock of time ticks away its final second, the promise of Jesus in John 16:20 will come true finally and forever: “Your sorrow will turn to joy!”
Are you weeping because death has taken a loved one from you? When my father died, my mother said she felt as though half of her body had been torn off. The pain of grief can be excruciating. Sometimes it seems that the tears will never stop. But here is the truth, straight from the Word of God: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) Those who have died trusting in Christ are now with the Lord in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ is with you here on earth. Jesus has your loved one by one hand and you with the other. When the time comes, He will take you to be with Him, and the reunion with your loved one will be forever. After the sorrow comes inexpressible joy.
Since we’re not in heaven yet, what do we do while we’re in this sorrowful, sorrow-filled world? Keep planting good seed, even when you’re crying. Psalm 126 says, “Those who sow in tears . . .” It says, “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed . . .”
Keep planting, even when you’re crying. Scripture says, “Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:7-9)
Continue doing what is right, whether it is popular or not. Keep honoring God, whether it is profitable or not. Continue to obey God’s commands, whether it is convenient or not. Keep trusting God’s promises, whether it is reasonable or not. Be determined. In fact, be stubborn about it! Let’s see some sanctified stubbornness from the people of God. Don’t give up because you don’t see results; we walk by faith, not by sight. The wicked don’t get tired of doing evil! Why should we get tired of doing good? Keep planting good seed.
Perhaps there is sadness in your heart because you are trying to serve God, seeking to obey God’s commands, striving to do His will, and nothing seems to be working out. The problem still exists; worse than that, people don’t seem to understand your actions. They even attack your motives, accusing you of hypocrisy or weakness or self-righteousness. God sees your heart. God knows your motives. God blesses faithfulness. God honors obedience to His Word. Keep planting, even when you’re crying.
When will we see results? When will the harvest come in? It will come “at the proper time” — in God’s time, at the right time, in the fullness of time — not a moment before, not a moment after. You don’t know when the harvest will come, but you know this: You can’t harvest what you don’t plant.
Whatever God gives you to do, great or small, simple or complicated, public or private, do it with all your heart. In your home, in your workplace, in school, in the community, wherever you are, however you feel, keep planting good seed to the glory of God.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds us that our efforts are not pointless or wasted. St. Paul was a man who knew something about trouble and suffering. Here is what he has to say at the close of his majestic chapter on the resurrection: “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:57-58)
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” “After the crying comes the laughing.” That’s our heavenly Father’s promise to His dear children. After Good Friday, Easter came. Christ has ascended, and Christ will return. We will see Him again, and our sorrow will turn to joy. By faith in Christ, that joy is ours even now, today!
Why? Because THE LORD HAS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! HALLELUJAH!