Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Encouragements to persevere

Several readings from John Piper's meditations in A Godward Life have been a great encouragement recently. Here are some quotes and reflections from one.

Talking to Your Tears (on Psalm 126:5-6)
"May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy! He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him." (RSV)

There is nothing inherently sorrowful about sowing seed, says Piper. The point is rather that sowing is a task that must be performed whatever the circumstances or ones spiritual and emotional state. No sowing - no harvest, it's as simple as that.

This, then, is an encouraging to keep going, to persevere, to keep working even when it's the last thing we feel like doing.

The crops won't wait while we finish our grief or solve our problems. If we
are going to eat next winter, we must get out in the field and sow the seed
whether we are crying or not.

This psalm teaches the tough truth that there is work to be done whether I am emotionally up for it or not, and it is
good for me to do it.

So here's the lesson: When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be done,
and you are full of sadness and the tears are flowing easily, go ahead and do
the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears: "Tears, I feel you. You
make me want to quit life, but there is a field to be sown (dishes to be washed,
a car to be fixed, a sermon to be written). I know you will wet my face several
times today, but I have work to do and you will just have to go with me. I
intend to take the bag of seeds and sow. If you come along, then you will just
have to wet the rows."

[And] if you do that, the promise of this psalm is that you will "reap with
shouts of joy"... not because the tears of sowing produce the joy of reaping,
but because the sheer sowing produces the reaping. We need to remember this even
when our tears tempt us to give up sowing.

Source: John Piper (1998) A Godward Life: Meditations on the supremacy of God in all of life (Eastbourne: Kingsway), pp.89-90

PS thanks to J-D & Kellee who gave us this book as a wedding present 6+ years ago

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