Reap With Joy

By Pastor Teck Uy

Farming is not an easy task. This is particularly so when we consider the farming methods used in third world countries. While those who live in North America and in the more affluent countries in the world use mechanized equipment and tools, the majority of farmers in third world countries continue to use antiquated methods. They still use animals to plow their field and manually plant their seed and harvest their crops. These farmers usually work under the burden and heat of the day, and are exposed to all kinds of perils. This setting better depicts the conditions of farmers in Biblical times. Just as it was back then, farming requires patience and sacrifice—yet it is rewarding. The Book of Psalms appropriately describes the sorrow and joy of farming when it says, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.  Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (Psalm 126:5-6).

While farming entails hard work and sacrifice, the greater reward of reaping a good harvest is the ultimate motivation of farmers. Deep within their hearts, they know that their labour will be rewarded in the end. This is the same motivation that the apostle Paul used to encourage us to persevere in our faith. He said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9). Just like farmers, we have sown seed in our lives. We did so in faith and we continue to persevere to preserve it. It is not always easy to keep our seed growing, considering that weeds can also come. Nevertheless, we need to persevere because the challenges are only there for a moment. The apostle Paul described the suffering of believers as temporary, but rewarding, saying, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17).

In our desire to reap a great harvest, we need to sow in tears. For a farmer, just the mere act of planting his seed is a sacrifice if his family is starving. The seed could well be used to feed his family instead of planting it. But if he does not plant, there will be a bigger problem in the future, for he has nothing to harvest. It is better to make that sacrifice now and be assured of a brighter tomorrow. The psalmist said it beautifully in these verses, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Indeed, there is hope for those who sow in tears. They can look forward to the future with much expectation. Our blessed hope in the Lord Jesus Christ will be our motivation in moving forward, and we will not be bogged down with the trials and hardship that we go through.

Needless to say, the hardship and sacrifices that farmers had to endure were the result of sin. When God created Adam and Eve, he designed that they will be provided with everything they needed. They were living in paradise, but when they sinned, God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Gen. 3:17-19). Up to now, many are wishing that they be freed from this daily grind, but this will be their daily routine for as long as they live. There will always be a need to be met and this will require toilsome labour. However, this should not be too much of a burden to us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, because he broke the curse for us when he died on the cross. He had freed us from the curse of sin and law.

In Christ Jesus, we can look forward to a fulfilling life. Therefore, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12;1-2). Yes, our labour in the Lord is not in vain. While we sow in tears, we will reap with songs of joy if we do not give up. Hallelujah!