Grace at work: Reaping joy from tears

In our sorrows and pain, are seeds being planted that will bring harvests of joy? Psalm 126:5,6 creates that picture. People who have been exiled from their homeland now return and try to rebuild their lives. There is still grief and tears, but they look forward to a harvest of joy.

What might the harvest be of our grief and tears?

I think we will be harvesting in the Lord’s fields.

In “making all things work together” for His purposes, the Almighty Father uses our hard times for the good of others, too.


Do you remember the scene in Acts 2? The Holy Spirit has filled the disciples, and now they are speaking to crowds that have gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, and they are speaking in many languages. Those from out of town are looking at each other and saying, “This guy speaks our language. And he’s talking about wonderful things God has done!”

Out of our hard times comes a new language, a language we now understand and speak to others who are traveling through the same barren wilderness.

Who better to speak to the grief of a lonely widow than another widow who has also walked through that valley? Who better to speak of the power of Christ to free from addiction than a person whom Christ has freed? Who better to speak the language of the hard times of divorce than one who has had to walk through that fire? Who knows the language of depression better than those who live with it?

When Paul writes about the gifts given to the church to carry out their ministry in the world, might suffering also be a gift? Can God use my trials and troubles to carry hope and comfort to another person who is experiencing the same thing I’ve been through?

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

There is so much hope in this passage! God is the source of all comfort. And not only does He comfort us, but He comforts others through us.

I’d like to introduce you to Vaneetha Rendall, whom I met a few years ago in a writing group. Vaneetha has walked through valleys I have not walked; she can speak languages I cannot. She speaks the language of a parent who has lost a child. She speaks other languages too. But most of all, she speaks words of hope and joy, even though she has walked through many fires and floods.

Here are some of her words. “Paul” is the son she lost.

That same transforming sense of purpose can arise from any loss. In sharing about Paul and subsequent sorrows, I have found others desperate for words of hope and comfort. They want to talk about their pain and fears with someone who has suffered as they have. It has been an honor to be part of their healing. To listen to them as they walk similar paths of sorrow. To offer evidence that they will heal, survive and even thrive. I hear others asking the same questions I did: Will I make it through? Will the aching ever stop? Will I ever laugh again?

God has carried me in my grief and comforted me through terrible trials. And because of His tender care, I am able to offer hope to others who are suffering. And when I do, it is like rubbing balm on my wounds. I get stronger. I gain courage. I feel joy again.

Read more of Vaneetha’s story and words of hope at her website, Dance in the Rain. (Click on the site name)

Isn’t this amazing grace?

God works in our pain so that, with joy, we can be part of others’ healing! And as we do, we grow stronger, gain more courage, and feel joy again.

Plant in tears. Reap in joy.

He brings good things from our hard places, not only for us, but also for the benefit of others. The gifts that are given to God’s children include the gift of the language of suffering. In those languages, we can speak hope to each other.

We have all been given a very special gift, writes Madeleine L’Engle in Walking on Water, a gift that enables us to serve and please God in one very special way —

And what if we find that this gift is one of suffering?




Psalm Prayer:

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise renews my life.
(Psalm 119:50)


© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

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